last year that EADS' Airbus division was seen as a candidate
to supply airframes to replace the existing C5 Galaxy cargo planes and the
Boeing 747-200B (VC-25A) used as Air Force One. Many discounted the possibility
of foreign interests supplying airframes to the Air Force given the
overwhelming lobbying presence to keep jobs and production on American soil.
While we still don't know the outcome for the C5 Galaxy/VC25A replacements, the
U.S. Air Force shocked many on Friday when it announced that Northrop Grumman
and EADS were awarded a $35B
contract to produce 179 tanker aircraft.
Northrop Grumman/EADS long battled with Boeing in the KC-X tanker program, with
many analysts and industry insiders reporting that the former had little chance
in winning out to the hometown favorite. In the end, Air Force Gen. Arthur
Lichte simply said that the larger, modified A330 provided by Airbus offered
passengers, more cargo, more fuel to offload, more patients that we can
carry, more availability, more flexibility and more dependability."
According to defense analyst Loren Thompson, Boeing will have little chance in
reversing the decision as the Airbus plane "seemed markedly superior"
to the Air Force.
The Airbus A330-based aircraft will be called the KC-45 and will replace 531
KC-135 aircraft which date back to the 1950s. The main structures for the
aircraft including the body and wings will be manufactured in Europe by Airbus.
Final assembly and militarization of the aircraft will be undertaken by
Northrop Grumman in Mobile, Alabama.
Not surprisingly, reaction from many in Congress came
swiftly and fiercely. "It's stunning to me that we would outsource the
production of these airplanes to Europe instead of building them in
America," said Kansas senator Sam Brownback. "We should have an
American tanker built by an American company with American workers. I can't
believe we would create French [and British] jobs in place of Kansas
jobs," added Todd Tiahrt, a congressman from Kansas.
Patty Murray, a senior senator from Washington, also expressed her displeasure
with the Northrop Grumman/EADA decision. "We are outraged that this
decision taps European Airbus and its foreign workers to provide a tanker to
our American military. At a time when our economy is hurting, this decision to
outsource our tankers is a blow to the American aerospace industry, American
workers and America's military."
Northrop Grumman/EADS won the first of three stages for the $100B Air Force
tanker program which calls for 500 aircraft. With Northrop Grumman/EADS having
won the first stage, it has the inside track in securing the final two stages
of the program.
Boeing has 100 days to appeal the decision. "Once we have reviewed the
details behind the award, we will make a decision concerning our possible
options," said Boeing in a statement.
quote: Boeing should have bucked up and made a better plane.
quote: Clearly these points were not what the USAF was focusing on when they made this questionable decision.
quote: 5. Do all you die-hard patriots agree with the policy of giving your troops sub-standard equipment as long as it keeps a few more jobs at home?
quote: so there will be ALOT of airframes in the desert to strip parts from in the future
quote: US tax dollars paying an EU company (propped up by EU Gov't subsidies)
quote: I say no part of american goverenment should source anything out to another country unless we cant provide a reasonable close alterntive here.
quote: I'm totally with you on that one, European countries buy US military equipement when it's the best. Why wouldn't USA do the same with european military equipment?
quote: average war that takes 10 years
quote: the main reason the US is a world super power is cause our military is top grade
quote: The US is approaching the same problem, spending too much on blowing things up
quote: If you outsource and a real war takes place how are you going to build more planes?
quote: but the main reason the US is a world super power is cause our military is top grade
quote: the "heil america" attitude of your congressmen is ridiculous, after all european countries buy american arms all the time (F104 through F16, for example), and aren't we all in NATO together? not that i'm a big fan of NATO, but there you go.
quote: If there wasnt a big election push going on this would be a back page news article.
quote: Unfortunately, that facts are facts, and right now with the state of the US economy, pouring money into other countries right now is a very controversial topic.
quote: it seems you are not anchored in reality and you have little clue about politics and economics. You compensate this with your inflated patriotism. Why don't you buy a little American flag and post it at your desk, as many silly Americans do.
quote: In Europe this is called hidden subsidies.
quote: 2. Competition is good!
quote: I see no large numbers of French, German or Dutch soldiers fighting
quote: buy from them in the mean time to keep steady
quote: As for the 5th generation aircraft debate, and what makes an aircraft 5th generation, I'll not even go there - suffice to say, the F-35 does not have the RCS many think it does, the export version is even worse. In terms of flight dynamics it is nothing special, I think its kinematic performance is worse than the F-16 in many respects.
quote: The current cutting edge of fighter design combines previous emphasis on versatility with new developments such as thrust vectoring, short takeoff/landing, composite materials, supercruise, stealth technology, advanced radar and sensors, and integrated avionics designed to reduce the pilot's workload while vastly improving situational awareness.
quote: Its main plus is the electronics... which are of course limited on export versions.
quote: The F-22 I have no argument with, a superb aircraft.
quote: For instance, the F-35 does not have thrust vectoring (outside the VTOL nozzle translation). It does not supercruise either.
quote: As regards the F-22, the Australians are making a massive effort to get it exported, so watch that space - the USAF will play ball to try and keep the line open beyond this autumn/fall.
quote: It is a very good aircraft.
quote: I'll put money on right now the Rafale has a lower RCS than the E/F - from pretty much all azimuthal angles.
quote: Having the rudder and associated planes vertical instead of canted does not make all that big a difference to the whole RCS thing. There are other considerations for only having one.
quote: The F-35 will fall short of many expectations - the idea that the JSF has all-aspect stealth is one of them. The idea that its frontal RCS is drastically lower than 4.5gen fighters is another.
quote: The idea that a VTOL aircraft is good for anything other than short range CAS will be another.
quote: I also expect the USN to realise in time operating a hideously expensive single engined aircraft off a large CATOBAR carrier was a pretty stupid idea as well.
quote: If it were not for politics the Rafale would already have a number of foreign sales. It is a very good aircraft. The Brits have already had discussions with Dassault regarding the Rafale, in spite of the u-turn it would mean - that shows just how fed up they are with the JSF.