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Boeing NewGen tanker  (Source: Boeing)
Boeing submits its 8,000-page tanker bid

One of the biggest debacles in the history of defense contractor bidding has been the bids for the multi-billion dollar contract to replace the aging fleet of tanker aircraft in use in several branches of the U.S. military. The program was closed once with the contract awarded only to be overturned on appeal by the defeated bidder.

Being announced late last week that it has submitted its tanker proposal to the Air Force that is based on its 767 aircraft and dubbed NewGen. The tanker proposal spanned 8,000 pages and was hand delivered to the KC-X program office at Wright-Patterson Air force Base in Ohio. The tanker aircraft reportedly satisfies all 372 mandatory Air Force requirements for the program at the lowest cost to the taxpayer.

"We are honored to support our U.S. Air Force customer and submit this proposal to meet the critical mission needs of this nation," said Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. "This revolutionary tanker will deliver widebody capabilities in a narrowbody footprint, operate in any theater or from any base, and -- with the lowest operating cost of any tanker in the competition -- save the Air Force and the American taxpayers billions of dollars."

One of the key features that Boeing is touting for the aircraft is its digital flight deck based on the flight deck from the 787 Dreamliner. The flight deck leaves the pilot in command of the aircraft and places no limits on combat maneuverability.

Boeing also takes a jab at EADS in its official statement stating that the NewGen tanker is more cost-effective to own and operate than the larger and heavier Airbus A330 EADS is offering. Boeing goes on to state that the savings in fuel alone over the 40-year service life of the aircraft would amount to over $10 billion if its NewGen tanker is chosen. The Boeing offering burns 24% less fuel than the EADS aircraft.

"As the only company in this competition with rich experience in developing and manufacturing derivative aircraft for the warfighter, Boeing brings the talent and resources of our existing team and facilities to fully meet the requirements of the U.S. Air Force," said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "With our Boeing commercial and defense teams and a proven supplier network, we have delivered more than 1,000 commercial derivative aircraft to U.S. government customers and military customers around the world. Add to that our experience as the only company to deliver a combat-tested aerial refueling boom, and we are ready to provide the right tanker for the Air Force and the best value for taxpayers."

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Behold the forces of competition!
By Iaiken on 7/12/2010 10:01:02 AM , Rating: 5
It may have taken obscenely longer than expected, but the fact that the current Boeing offering is so mindbogglingly better than their first offering is a testament to what real competition can accomplish. Had the deal gone through as originally stated, with the inferior design and a leasing program that could have legally constituted rape, it would have gone down in history as the worst example of government toadying to military industry ever.

Fair or not, unless EADS pulls a rabbit out of their hat, this thing is pretty much over.

RE: Behold the forces of competition!
By SandmanWN on 7/12/2010 11:20:23 AM , Rating: 3
All that and you save 10 billion in fuel costs. You could replace almost 1/3 of the fleet at the end of its life cycle with the savings alone.

RE: Behold the forces of competition!
By Jeffk464 on 7/12/2010 12:41:57 PM , Rating: 1
Wait a second, can it carry as much fuel as the airbus? Sure its smaller and lighter and uses less fuel but if it has less fuel capacity it might take more flights to refuel the same number of planes. Am I missing something here? Don't get me wrong I would prefer to see the contract going to American workers.

By SandmanWN on 7/12/2010 12:52:25 PM , Rating: 3
In the end it meets every specification the AF put out so yes it does what its supposed to do and exactly what they want it to do.

But if it doesn't later on in its service life you can always use the money saved to buy any number of planes to fill any gap you come across. Having 10 billion to play with makes your problems easier to solve.

RE: Behold the forces of competition!
By HrilL on 7/12/2010 1:10:02 PM , Rating: 3
Capacity isn't really the only factor. The Airbus needs a larger runway so it can't take off smaller strips that the Boeing offering can. Thus it will have to fly farther to get to the same locations burning more fuel just to get to a location that the Boeing offering can simply take off from.

The Boeing offering is better hands down. Plus I'd rather have any profits there are to be made to go to an American company where hopefully that money will stay. I also don't support companies that can't complete fairly on the market. Airbus would fail if it wasn't for all the EU funding it gets.

RE: Behold the forces of competition!
By ElFenix on 7/12/2010 1:17:30 PM , Rating: 2
the air force is trying to replace its 707 based tankers. these things mostly fly around refueling training missions. for long range missions with large fuel requirements the air force has DC-10 derived tankers that carry much more fuel with longer range. those won't be up for replacement for another couple of decades.

so there's really no need to fly around a bunch of airframe for the amount of fuel the air force is trying to deliver with these planes. which is why the EADS offering and that russian offering will lose. yes, they're excellent planes, but they're just too much plane for the job.

RE: Behold the forces of competition!
By knutjb on 7/12/2010 6:35:14 PM , Rating: 2
the air force is trying to replace its 707 based tankers
The KC-135 is based on the original Dash 80 (717), not the 707 like the AWACS & JSTARS, they are similar but different. The airlines wanted a little wider cabin than in the Dash 80, so Boeing widened the cabin a little with a longer fuselage and wider wings to increase passenger capacity enabled by rapidly increasing jet engine development and the commercial worlds lower gross take off requirements. I know its picking nits but after working on KC-135s for some years the 707 ref bugs me.

RE: Behold the forces of competition!
By Aerocat on 7/13/2010 10:54:47 PM , Rating: 2
The KC-135 is a 707 derivative. It has 4 engines on wing pylons (Boeing and Spirit, who builds them, call them struts). The Dash 80 is a Mcdonnell Douglas design with 2 engines on rear fuselage pylons.

RE: Behold the forces of competition!
By Aerocat on 7/13/2010 11:08:26 PM , Rating: 2
I did a little research. Both the KC-135 and 707 were derived from the Boeing 367-80 proof of concept aircraft, sometimes referred to as the Dash 80 and 717. More recently Boeing's rebranded 717 was derived from the Mcdonnell Douglas MD-80, another Dash 80.

By knutjb on 7/14/2010 2:42:10 AM , Rating: 2
Boeing 367-80 is the one you see Tex Johnson doing the barrel roll in. I believe its parked next to the Concorde at the Smithsonian. They hung a boom off it to test the tanker idea. The 1955 and early 1956 135s are nearly identical to the Dash 80. It was a pretty amazing period for aviation.

By knutjb on 7/12/2010 6:24:05 PM , Rating: 3
Wait a second, can it carry as much fuel as the airbus?
Yes you are missing something here. The problem with airbus is it's too big for the quantity it carries. Dimensionally the airbus is very close to the KC-10 yet carries 1/3 less fuel and less cargo.

The AF determined after buying the KC-10 two smaller KC-135R tankers are more efficient than one big one in daily use. It's a logistical problem not a max capacity one. One small tanker is all it takes to fill one big jet and fighters travel in small numbers that fit well with smaller tankers.

So, for all intents and purposes the AF will be better served by a smaller tanker than a big one. If the big ones were so great they would have bought more big ones after experience with the KC-10.

RE: Behold the forces of competition!
By moenkopi on 7/12/2010 6:52:50 PM , Rating: 2
Either way, American workers are going to be building it regardless of whom is making it. Now the smaller plane will suit the AF better than the larger one, when it comes to the overall cost with all missions. Sure, larger planes can carry more, but if largeness was important, wouldn't they be using the 747 as a fuel tanker? No efficiency and cost savings is more important. It is the same reason why the space shuttle is being retired, when most of your missions requires the smaller car, why have the SUV around?

By karielash on 7/13/2010 12:15:05 AM , Rating: 3
Actually, the Chinese workers will be the biggest beneficiary regardless of who wins....

RE: Behold the forces of competition!
By Reclaimer77 on 7/12/2010 6:59:29 PM , Rating: 2
Wait a second, can it carry as much fuel as the airbus? Sure its smaller and lighter and uses less fuel but if it has less fuel capacity it might take more flights to refuel the same number of planes.

Dude do you think tankers are up there refueling 100 planes at a time or something? Most fighters barely make a dent in what tankers can carry. And in combat refueling you don't top off your tanks anyway, you "splash and go".

I think this is a great move by Boeing because, and I'm just guessing here, most of the time you are only refueling a handful of planes per flight anyway. So why have a huge plane that burns more fuel just so it can carry more fuel that isn't being dispensed anyway?

By Jeffk464 on 7/12/2010 7:28:11 PM , Rating: 2
I'm thinking in combat zones where you have a lot of activity going on refuelers would stay loitering in the area until they have transferred most/all of their fuel load, no? I get what you are saying for training missions it does make sense and I didn't really think about the kc10 already filling the rule of large tanker.

RE: Behold the forces of competition!
By alanore on 7/12/2010 1:03:44 PM , Rating: 2
Although it has taken so long that it is nearly at the stage at which the 787 would be viable. On paper the 787 has some pretty significant advantages, better range, faster, better fuel efficiency, larger maximum take-off weight, and is supposed to be cheaper to maintain.

RE: Behold the forces of competition!
By BernardP on 7/12/2010 1:41:32 PM , Rating: 1
Exactly. But one of the objectives(?) or results(?) of the tanker program seems to give Boeing the ability to extend the life of the 30-year old 767 airframe.

The 787 airframe will be used for the next next-gen tanker...

By roadhog1974 on 7/12/2010 7:08:44 PM , Rating: 2
only problem with that is by the time the tanker reaches
end of life so will the 787.

Mind you at that point almost all aircraft will be unmanned
so tankers will not be necessary.

RE: Behold the forces of competition!
By Keeir on 7/12/2010 7:37:23 PM , Rating: 2

Lets have a bit of a discussion.

The main advantage of both the A330 and the B767 is that a majority of the work is already "paid" for in other contracts.

The B767 for instance has been used for other military platforms as well as Japanese and Italian Tanker designs.

The A330 tanker is getting a sweet deal from the UK government that will fund alot of the development costs. IE, a 15.8 billion dollar contract for the -lease- of 14 aircraft + maintainence for only 27 years.

A 787 would need significant development work. The 787 is also significantly more expensive to build. The 787's would also have to be "stolen" from airline customers, so potential economic loss even if sold for a profit. At the end, the 787 is also significantly larger aircraft, the vast majority of missions would not see a significant change in usability... but increased fuel burn to hoist the airframe into the sky. At commerical list prices, the 179 787 would be roughly ~10 billion-15 bllion in comparison to the 767.

So who's first?
By AntDX316 on 7/13/2010 2:25:47 AM , Rating: 2
So who's first to fly this awesome new jet?

We all know why Boeing won
By monkeyman1140 on 7/13/2010 3:26:57 PM , Rating: 2
Military contracting is 90% political, 10% competition.

We have people in congress renaming french fries, no european company stands a chance of getting a military contract unless they've cornered the market so well that we have no choice.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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