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  (Source: Northrop Grumman)

Northrop Grumman/EADS KC-45A tanker  (Source: Northrop Grumman)
Boeing wins the battle, but the war continues with the controversial Air Force tanker program.

It looks like the ongoing battle between Northrop Grumman/EADS and Boeing over the $35B Air Force tanker contract will go on for at least another year. Northrop Grumman/EADS won the KC-X tanker competition earlier this year and it was announced that the Airbus A330-based KC-45 would replace the Air Force's existing fleet of 531 KC-135 tanker aircraft.

With foreign hands having a part in the design and construction of the KC-45, some in Congress weren't too happy with the move. "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," said Todd Tiahrt, a congressman from Kansas.

Boeing filed a formal protest against the Air Force's decision with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in March. Boeing contended that it deserved the contract due to numerous errors and concessions made during the competition and noted that it provided "75 years of unmatched experience building tankers" and "offered the Air Force the best value and lowest risk tanker for its mission".

It looks as though Boeing has quite a bit of pull in Washington, because the GAO sided with Boeing’s protest. "Our review of the record led us to conclude that the Air Force had made a number of significant errors that could have affected the outcome of what was a close competition," said the GAO in a statement.

"We recommended that the Air Force reopen discussions ... obtain revised proposals, re-evaluate the revised proposals, and make a new source selection decision, consistent with our decision," the GAO continued.

Further stacking future proceedings in Boeing's favor, the GAO reported that the Air Force performed "unreasonable" cost/performance analysis with regards to the Northrop Grumman/EADS entry versus Boeing's competing entry. Had those errors not have been made; the GAO concluded that Boeing would have been the low-cost champion of the competition, and likely the overall winner.

The Air Force will in essence have to start the competition all over again to satisfy the GAO's requests – in the mean time; the aging KC-135 fleet will still take to the skies. "In theory, the air force has 60 days to answer. But in reality, it's obvious they're going to have to start over," said Lexington Institute military analyst Loren Thompson.

EADS, as expected, wasn't exactly elated with the GAO's decision. "Though we are disappointed, it's important to recognize that the GAO announcement is an evaluation of the selection process, not the merits of the aircraft," said EADA spokesman Louis Gallois.

"We will support our partner Northrop and remain confident that the KC-45 is the aircraft best suited to make the Air Force's critical mission requirements, as demonstrated by four previous competitive selections."

Not surprisingly, Boeing is ecstatic about the ruling. "We welcome and support today's ruling by the GAO fully sustaining the grounds of our protest," said Boeing tanker group VP Mark McGraw. "We look forward to working with the Air Force on next steps in this critical procurement for our warfighters."

Supporters of Boeing's protest in Congress also welcomed the GAO's decision. "The GAO's decision in the tanker protest reveals serious errors in the Air Force's handling of this critically important competition. We now need not only a new full, fair and open competition in compliance with the GAO recommendations, but also a thorough review of -- and accountability for -- the process that produced such a flawed result," said Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan).

"The GAO did its work, and the Air Force is going to have to go back and do its work more thoroughly," added Representative Ike Skelton (D-Missouri).

You can read the GAO's full report including seven areas in which it found the Air Force's decision to be flawed here.



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That's not quite how it works...
By DASQ on 6/19/2008 11:43:17 AM , Rating: 5
Putting money into "American" jobs is less important than the effective capabilities of the tanker.

The Boeing tanker (from my understanding) is worse in virtually every aspect, as well as more expensive. So they want to spend MORE (i.e. waste) tax dollars in order to... put money into American jobs... that are going to fund purchases of foreign goods anyway. It's a cycle of inefficiency.




RE: That's not quite how it works...
By hlper on 6/19/2008 11:53:55 AM , Rating: 2
As long as the aircraft works I would rather have the $35+ Billion stay in the U.S. economy. Back when I did logistics for the military, there was always a preference for U.S. Suppliers, not just for sensitive technologies but everything from bombs to ballpoint pens.

If the American plane is not going to crash, I say buy it. Let the Europeans create there own jobs.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By DASQ on 6/19/2008 12:04:01 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think the Boeing tanker would be 100% American built either way.

'Good enough' might be the key word for this project.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By FITCamaro on 6/19/2008 12:12:48 PM , Rating: 5
Well largely I agree with you. I prefer the military to buy from American contractors. However, I believe in this case that this is a bad decision for a few reasons.

1) I believe that in reality, the EADS team was going to provide more work here in the US than the Boeing team would end up doing.

2) This program has been delayed for years. This not only affects Boeing or EADS, but also the many, many sub-contractors who have been trying to bid for pieces of the work for years, the company I work for included.

3) The outcome of the presidential election could decide whether or not this tanker gets built at all. If Obama were to win, he will slash military spending. This not being on contract could mean it might never happen. If it goes on contract now, the work is guaranteed to get done.

As I said I am all for America putting American's first. While I am involved with some stuff at work for it and find the aircraft quite capable and impressive, I'm not even that huge a fan of the F35 since it is a multi-national effort which means other countries will potentially be equal with us militarily rather than behind us. Granted we're basically just giving the majority of countries the plane but no other systems (radar, tactical systems, etc), but still.

And I also want to give our boys the best there is. If the Boeing plane truly is worse than the EADS team plane, then the EADS team deserves the contract.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Suomynona on 6/19/2008 1:49:53 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
If Obama were to win, he will slash military spending.


Do you have a source for this, or is it just idle speculation?


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Ammohunt on 6/19/08, Rating: 0
RE: That's not quite how it works...
By oab on 6/19/2008 4:18:16 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
...Obama being radical leftist...

Radical leftist?

Because Obama = Vladimir Lenin or Mao Zedong.

I do sense hyperbole however, as "destroy the military completely", well ... put it this way. If Barack Obama becomes president, he won't pass a bill that completely dissolves the armed forces and sells off all military property. Shrink? Yes. Destory competely? No.

Although, if cuts are more significant than the Clinton ones, it will be significantly smaller than what it is now (up to 35%?).


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By winterspan on 6/20/08, Rating: -1
RE: That's not quite how it works...
By RjBass on 6/20/2008 10:37:28 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, I spent the majority of my active duty time in the Army under Clinton and they were the best years of my military career. When Bush got into office was when things really started going down hill really fast.


By Shining Arcanine on 6/23/2008 7:40:57 PM , Rating: 2
My uncle served in the Air Force under Carter and later under Reagan and he told me that life under Carter in the Air Force was lousy. It is the complete opposite of what you have to say. Perhaps that is because you did not have to worry about dying during the Clinton administration, because the Cold War had ended during the previous Bush administration.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Grast on 6/19/2008 2:04:10 PM , Rating: 3
Politics not with standing....

Every Democratic president since Jimmy Carter has cut military spending in favor of more domestic programs. I will not go into the types of programs because is does not really mater. Democratic party members have never supported funding for the military. While I do not have a source, it is common sense and a fact of history that Jimmy Carter and Clinton both cut military spending by extremely large amounts.

I did not bring up prior democratic presidents due to the party members being of a different mind set.

Regardless of politics, Obama will most likely cut military spending to pay for any number of his ADVERTISED domestic programs such as United Health Care, Social Security Reform, and Further Expanded Educational programs.

Later....


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By maverick85wd on 6/19/2008 4:52:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Regardless of politics, Obama will most likely cut military spending to pay for any number of his ADVERTISED domestic programs such as United Health Care, Social Security Reform, and Further Expanded Educational programs.


*Cringe* I pray to god you are wrong. Especially if he puts the money into united health care. I don't want my tax dollars spent on my or anyone else's health care. I will pay for it myself and expect others to do the same. TANSTAFL!


By BZDTemp on 6/20/2008 1:58:27 PM , Rating: 3
Well I hope for you that neither you or your family should ever fall on hard times and loose medical coverage then.

Living in a country where everyones medical is covered by the state, education is free (students even gets grants to live on while studying) and where the minimum wage is on par with the average wage of the US it seems to me you guys have the wrong system. We may pay a lot of tax but we can afford it and no one is dying of poverty. Heck we even make the top three every time there is a study on happiness, security, democracy, unemployment (1.8%) and even our women are beautiful :-)


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By blackened160 on 6/19/2008 10:24:49 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
While I do not have a source, it is common sense and a fact of history that Jimmy Carter and Clinton both cut military spending by extremely large amounts.


Well mislead! A quick gander at historical "facts" would show Bush Sr. cut almost as much off military spending in his term (mostly after the Gulf War) as Clinton did in his two terms. And while Carter cut spending, he actually ended his term spending more than when he started. Also remember neither president was in a war, or posturing for a war.

If we follow the historical pattern, both Obama and McCain will cut military spending, unless the US decides to invade another country.


By Ringold on 6/20/2008 3:24:58 AM , Rating: 1
Carter was very much in a war, the Cold War. In fact, Carter made it quite a bit more warm with his moralistic brow-beating.

As for H.W. Bush, the Soviet Union was collapsing. I don't know what the budget did under him exactly, so not providing cover for him, but I know a lot of Cold War era naval and air patrols ceased at some point between then and now.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By FITCamaro on 6/19/2008 2:04:58 PM , Rating: 3
Obama has even said he will cut tens of billions in defense spending.

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.vie...


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Ringold on 6/19/08, Rating: -1
By masher2 (blog) on 6/19/2008 3:09:52 PM , Rating: 5
> "that shows you how inexperienced that fool is, a politician never looks right in to a camera and completely reveals his true position that way."

In my opinion, that's Obama's sole redeeming quality-- he's actually quite candid and forthright in espousing many of his positions. I wish all candidates were.

However, the problem with Obama is his stated position is so incredibly wrong on nearly every issue.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Ringold on 6/19/2008 2:09:50 PM , Rating: 1
There was an early Democratic debate where they all essentially fell over each other agreeing on military program cuts, the contention was how much.

Unfortunately, Obama is too smart to come out and make it easy for me, as while he has an Iraq 'issue' on his site, I see no 'military' one. I reckon that's an indicator of where it ranks on his list of priorities.

It's a fairly standard liberal position that we spend too much on expensive systems like the F-22; The LA-Times ran a recent op-ed suggesting China and other likely foes have no ability to counter such systems, therefore we don't need nearly as many of the. If Obama is a standard-issue liberal, and he appears to be one, then its not exactly a huge leap to assume he would like to cut a little military funding if its politically viable. It's also the way liberals in Canada (particularly Trudeau onwards) slowly eviscerated their once-impressive military; downsizing and then closing one program after another, death by a thousand tiny cuts.

So, idle speculation on Camaro's part? Possibly, he might have a real link too, I didn't look too hard. But intelligent speculation based on his party history and what other members of his party say with regularity? Sure.

Contrasted to:
http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/054184f...

"A Strong Military in a Dangerous World"

Unlike Obama's site, there's little ambiguity there!


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By 91TTZ on 6/19/2008 5:56:01 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
It's a fairly standard liberal position that we spend too much on expensive systems like the F-22; The LA-Times ran a recent op-ed suggesting China and other likely foes have no ability to counter such systems, therefore we don't need nearly as many of them.


Isn't that the point of having advanced weaponry- to give us an advantage? It isn't our goal to evenly match our enemies, it's our goal to have a decided advantage.


By Reclaimer77 on 6/19/2008 7:36:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Do you have a source for this, or is it just idle speculation?


Was this question a joke or an attempt at satire or irony ?


By Reclaimer77 on 6/19/2008 7:37:17 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Do you have a source for this, or is it just idle speculation?


Was this question a joke or an attempt at satire or irony ?


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Reclaimer77 on 6/19/2008 7:37:48 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Do you have a source for this, or is it just idle speculation?


Was this question a joke or an attempt at satire or irony ?


By Reclaimer77 on 6/19/2008 7:40:14 PM , Rating: 2
whoa... what the hell ?


By maverick85wd on 6/19/2008 4:47:24 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Granted we're basically just giving the majority of countries the plane but no other systems (radar, tactical systems, etc), but still.


But that's exactly the point. Without the weapons, software, or electronic warfare / radar systems, all you've got is a really fast plane. The air frames themselves don't matter nearly as much as the rest of the jet's components. Not to say other countries don't have strong avionics packages, I just don't think anyone will have ours.


By jamdunc on 6/21/2008 10:33:00 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm not even that huge a fan of the F35 since it is a multi-national effort which means other countries will potentially be equal with us militarily rather than behind us.


Well if the UK had the manpower and budget you guys have, we would be equal with you no doubt. It's only down to our smaller population and land area which is what holds us back.

Well that and the now crappy liberals we have that now seem to be flooding the government!

quote:
Granted we're basically just giving the majority of countries the plane but no other systems (radar, tactical systems, etc)


Well seeing as a lot of those systems are made by BAE Systems which is a British company, surely they can just get them from BAE. Plus BAE tend to have the better systems as well. Like the knowledge for VTOL (and SVTOL). And the majority of the US Aircraft will be using BAE Avionics in some for or another.

Pity they never get things done on time though and BAE support is usually hard to get. Or expensive and slow.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Ringold on 6/19/2008 1:57:13 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
As long as the aircraft works I would rather have the $35+ Billion stay in the U.S. economy.


Yep. Because that attitude has lead to fantastic growth in Western Europe.

</sarcasm>

Boeing is being given a second chance to compete. If they can't come close, they don't deserve it. In case you didn't notice, EADS will bring about as many jobs to America as the Boeing contract. Arguing about money staying "here" or "there" for Boeing and Airbus is about like arguing over cars; in neither case will appreciably more or less be manufactured "here," as they both have global supply chains.


By ikkeman2 on 6/20/2008 2:07:42 AM , Rating: 2
actually, they're getting a third chance. The first contract on this agreement was nullified because of gross corruption between Boeing and the AF - Top poeple went to jail.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By masher2 (blog) on 6/19/2008 2:34:40 PM , Rating: 5
> "As long as the aircraft works I would rather have the $35+ Billion stay in the U.S. economy"

First of all, the Boeing proposal is only slightly "more American" than Northrop-Grummond's. Second of all, in matters of defense, you want the best capabilities you can get. Our present tankers "just work". If that's the metric we're going to use, why ever replace anything? Hell, we could save a bundle if our fighter pilots were still flying P-51 Mustangs.

The fact remains that Northrop's offering carries 50% more fuel, and does so on a platform that is cheaper and more maintainable. That translates into more fuel delivered on the spot, a critical need in a wartime situation where lives are at stake.


By 1078feba on 6/19/2008 3:40:02 PM , Rating: 4
I have to admit, I'm a little torn about the "Buy American" argument.

As a 2ndLt Air Frames Officer at the I-Level, I was in charge of making sure that a bunch of squadrons of F-18's had enough MLG shock absorbers. The supply system was in very short supply due to the number that had been deemed to far gone to fix at our level (too technically demanding), and thus had to be sent elsewhere. After months of this, I find out the reason why...

The original contract, back when the first Hornets were rolling off the assembly line, to build the MLG absorbers went to a French company. They went belly up. It then went to an Israeli firm, which was having a significant amount of trouble with the technical details within the French design specs and drawings (never understood that, but that was the reason givien). It then went to a third foreign firm, who eventually managed to meet demand. But all of this took place over a period of 18 months. I can't tell you the number of man-hours used for cannibalization of those absorbers. How ridiculously tenderly we had to treat them. And this is obviously a war-fighting machine. We use them primarily to support the grunt on the ground. Ask any grunt how wonderfull the sound of jet engines are when they are in really deep shit. And here we are, contracting, for what I surmise was probably purely political reasons, parts production of a national defense asset out to a foreign company.

How smart is that?

The logical side of me is all for laissez-faire world economics, but in some situations, I wonder if we have our priorities straight.


By Some1ne on 6/19/2008 8:48:08 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
If the American plane is not going to crash, I say buy it. Let the Europeans create there own jobs.


Wrong. For military applications, you buy the better plane. Then you tell the American company to get off its ass, and stop being so damn far behind the foreign ones that the military is reduced to buying foreign-made equipment.

Subsidizing mediocrity just breeds more mediocrity. If American companies can't keep up with their foreign counterparts in terms of performance and cost, then they don't deserve anybody's business. Not the air force's, or anybody else's for that matter.

Maybe after a few years of being strapped for cash, they'll realize that they can't rely on their status as American companies as a reliable source of income, and then they'll invest some effort in developing a superior product for once. But to subsidize a company just because it happens to be American and regardless of the fact that it creates an inferior product, is stupid. That will only breed complacency and mediocrity, and will cause the process of innovation to stagnate (why should a company bother to make the effort to do innovative things, when they know that they can suck out loud and still get business thanks to being an American company?).


By BZDTemp on 6/20/2008 1:40:14 PM , Rating: 4
Now this is just short sighted and stupid. For example I live in a EU country which is about to replace our F-16 fighters (of which some are worn out due to action in Afghanistan). With the US starting nationalistic stupidity like this it could very well be that the replacement fighters will be something other than the US ones - like say the Eurofighter made by EADS.

With the US in crisis I smell a trade war coming and I wonder if it's not like the in the long run the US economy needs the EU more than the other way round. International relations should not be hampered by a president trying to gain a little approval.

We really should work together otherwise we are essentially just helping China and Russia.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By crleap on 6/19/2008 11:58:17 AM , Rating: 1
in america, we like higher prices by paying american unions to produce the same (competitive) products for a higher price. look at the steel industry, agriculture, and virtually all other industries. unions fight to keep ahold of their artificially inflated wages and keep jobs in human hands that could more safely and efficiently be done in automated factories. this is a glass ceiling on development, because it doesn't force people doing these easy low-qualification monotonous jobs for super high artificially inflated wages when automation could complete the task better. it lets them cling to these jobs instead of getting an education and moving along with scientific progress and bettering society as a whole.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By DASQ on 6/19/2008 12:12:56 PM , Rating: 2
Well, unions were never exactly GOOD for competition.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By DASQ on 6/19/2008 2:11:31 PM , Rating: 2
Explain to me, those who rated down, why you think unions actually make any company more competitive?

Must be union members voting me down.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By ChristopherO on 6/19/2008 12:19:44 PM , Rating: 2
You *do* realize that the EU has bigger, more powerful unions than the US...

Although I do agree in part that unions arbitrarily maintain certain roles which either, should be paid minimum wage, or automated away.

However, I'm not going to make a blanket assumption this applies to most manufacturing jobs... Mostly automotive/assembly line type activities. Aircraft production is still highly specialized and not as mechanized as smaller machinery. You can't roll a 747 down the "line".

This whole situation is also inane. From everything I understand the Airbus was better when measured with every single yard-stick (except the political one!) and it was cheaper to boot.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By jarman on 6/19/2008 1:26:50 PM , Rating: 2
I'd suggest you reevaluate your understanding of "better". I highly recommend some background reading in the areas of mission assurance and risk. If you look at the new selection criteria for US military hardware you'll find that performance only receives ~20% of the weighting, MA and Risk account for ~50-60%.

If the Air Force had asked for a "supertanker". Boeing would have designed one. However you and NG fail to realize, that is wasn't asked for in the first place.


By Talon75 on 6/19/2008 12:03:02 PM , Rating: 2
More governmental finger pointing for the win. It's the Air Force's Fault for not picking well. Never mind that Boeing has become as complacent as the rest of American Business, never mind that by acquiescing to crappy standards that we just perpetuate the cycle... I am all for Boeing getting the contract, but not if the plane is going to suck and wind up costing the Tax payers more in the long run.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Keeir on 6/19/2008 12:05:15 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
The Boeing tanker (from my understanding) is worse in virtually every aspect, as well as more expensive.


You might to actually -read- the protest

The Boeing 767 should be significantly less expensive platform than the Airbus 330. Why? Because its -smaller-. That part never made sense to me, and the GAO found numerous errors that inflated the cost of the Boeing 767 proposal. (Note, some of them, like using Boeing 707 Tanker maintaince data rather than almost 30 years of 767 service History make no sense)

The Biggest thing in my mind, the Boeing 767 is significantly more fuel efficient as a platform than the Airbus 330. At a time when most air refueling missions (the primary purpose of a tanker) do not require 100% fuel offload from Boeing 707, it doesn't appear to me that the larger capacity of the Airbus 330 makes a significant difference. The 767 is almost as effective an airlifter, carrying almost as much cargo wieght using less fuel to a similar range as the A330.

Oh, and Boeing already has the capacity to building the booms and hose systems to refuel all American planes.

However, I think people really should have seen this comming. In the middle of the Tanker contract, Northrup/EADS threatened to pull out if the design requirements were not changed. The GAO really takes a dim view of (significantly) changing requirements in the middle of a bidding process.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By jahwarrior on 6/19/2008 12:20:46 PM , Rating: 3
From the reports I read the 767 platform is actually operationally better due to the smaller size. Many of the theaters of operation overseas have smaller runways and operating space, as well the planes must be moved in various ways on trucks etc. making the smaller size an advantage.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Misty Dingos on 6/19/2008 12:54:00 PM , Rating: 3
OK because I am nice and I like to help people I will help you out here, because you are seriously confused.

Smaller tanker as a benefit is simply a bogus argument. The only places USAF tankers park/land/deploy to are fully capable airbases or airports. These are big places. PSAB in Saudi Arabia is a good example. Middle of nowhere yet even the largest aircraft in the world can work out of there. Why you ask. Well that is because war is very unpredictable and you over plan and over build and yes over buy. You are never going to park a tanker at a base that you can’t land a C5 at. Which is one of the largest aircraft in the world. Why is that? In case you need to bring a part to a broken tanker. You fly the parts in on a big plane. So if the big plane can’t land there you can’t park you tanker there either.

So smaller tankers are a waste of money time and space for military uses. You need more of them to do the same work. You have more of them to break. You need more guys to fix them. You have to keep more parts on hand to do the repairs. When it comes to tankers small is not an asset. Unless you are planning on working from an aircraft carrier. Which neither the Boeing nor EAD aircraft have as a requirement. If they could that would be one big ass super carrier!

I am so glad I could help you out with this since you were very confused.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By DASQ on 6/19/2008 12:57:59 PM , Rating: 2
Good points, I never thought about that actually.

Would the Boeing's smaller size even really change the actual % of airbases it would actually use?


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By 1078feba on 6/19/2008 3:21:39 PM , Rating: 3
Ok, let me help YOU out.

As someone who has worked in Marine Aviation for over a decade, you are patently incorrect. Well, at least from a Marine standpoint. Marine C-130's (and many variants within the Type/Model/Series) all have AAR and Formation AAR as one their primary, if not singularly primary, missions. I haven't checked the size dimensions, but I'd be willing to bet that C-130's are smaller than either of these two prototype (for lack of of a better term) aircraft, and yet I'd be willing to bet that the C-130 has pumped more gas while airborne than all the other platforms combined. The reason is it's expeditionary. It's forward-deployable, at expeditionary airfields. What aircraft do you think is being used to resupply the FARPs? JATO's enable it to take off of a carrier deck for crying out loud (yes, it's been done, but it only a handful of times as proof of concept. Catching a wire is a totally different matter). Can either of these two proposed aircraft fly slow enough to fill up any of the rotary-wing aircraft in the inventory?

And yes you need more of them to do the same work, but that higher number means that you have flexibility, adaptability and therefore a superior force.

This whole program smells of typical Air Force school-boy tech lust. They get rid of the A-10; Why? Not because it's probably the best ground support aircraft ever designed. Not because during Gulf War I it instilled absolute terror in the enemy (Google it sometime, you'll be amazed. Start with "Highway of Death") and killed them in wholesale fashion, not because it was efficient and effective on a level rarely seen anywhere, not because it was incredibly cheap to operate, could withstand unheard of amounts of battle damage yet remain airworthy, not because it practically encased the pilot in a sheet steel box...

No, they got rid of it because no one of any importance in the Air Force thought it glamorous enough to fly. This is the reason that SecDef Gates publicly castigated the (Ch)Air Force recently, and then forced the Chief of Staff and his own Air Force Secretary to step down. What's more, he recently nominated...wait for it...YOU GUESSED IT, A CARGO/XPORT PILOT as the next Chief of Staff.

We don't "need" either of these aircraft. Both of them will be significantly more expensive to operate than C-130s, and will not have nearly range of applicability/mission sets.


By weskurtz0081 on 6/19/2008 5:00:50 PM , Rating: 2
The Marines might not have a use for a tanker such as this, but it doesn't mean the Airforce doesn't. So, saying we don't "need" either of them is false. The C-130 just doesn't carry enough payload to meet the demands of the Airforce, nor does it have the cargo capacity.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Klober on 6/20/2008 9:23:09 AM , Rating: 2
I whole-heartedly agree with the summation of the A-10 being decommissioned. It was one of the best planes we've ever created for its purpose - highly effective and extremely survivable (both for pilot and the plane itself). I just wanted to make one (in my eyes) very important correction. Where you state:
quote:
practically encased the pilot in a sheet steel box

Actually, this was one of the things the "Warthog" (officially designated the Thunderbolt II) was known for - it was titanium, not steel. By many it was termed the "titanium bathtub". 900 pounds of titanium plate surrounding the cockpit, between 1/2 - 1 1/2" thick, with the interior (side facing the pilot) lined with a kevlar shield. :)


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By TakeoE on 6/20/2008 12:48:14 PM , Rating: 2
Uhh let me help YOU out.

The KC-130J has a `45,000 lb fuel offload capability, the USAF's smallest tanker KC-135, has a fuel offload capability about 3 times greater. One ANG squadron recently set a record of 804,000 lbs offloaded in a DAY. They refuel almost every airborne platform capable of being air-refueled by another aircraft EXCEPT Helicopters (Which is why the HC, MC and KC-130 tankers exist).

The KC-130 is there for tactical refueling, and simply cannot be used for strategic tanking, while jet platforms such as the KC-135, KC-10 and the forthcoming KC-45 can do both. The C-130 simply does not have anywhere near the range or fuel offload capability required, that's why we fly different platforms. You can't use a pair of needle-nose pliers when what you need is a pipe wrench.

"I'd be willing to bet that the C-130 has pumped more gas while airborne than all the other platforms combined."

Not even close buddy.

Get off it dumbass, do your homework before you "bet", you'll keep a lot more of your money that way.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Manch on 6/19/2008 8:36:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The only places USAF tankers park/land/deploy to are fully capable airbases or airports. These are big places.


Yeah, that's not true. There are tankers based at locations that prevent them from taking off at maximum load and therefore not fully capable as you put it. 100 ARW, RAF Mildenhall has KC-135's, standard NATO runway.

Smaller tanker as an argument is a valid point. There are many airfields that simply cannot handle large or extremely heavy aircraft. The NATO standard 8,000-foot runway
is not adequate for fully loaded KC-135s, so how do you think an even larger tanker would do? While both of the new tanker designs from Boeing and EADS have this capability, there are still several locations that even these new tankers simply cannot access. Both are designed off of civilian airframes and cannot land on under developed runways like a military purpose built aircraft ~ c-17, c-5 or a c-130. bigger isn't always better.

Instead of throwing out anymore WAGs as facts in a thinly disguised insult do some homework.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Manch on 6/19/2008 8:51:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
While both of the new tanker designs from Boeing and EADS have this capability, there are still several locations that even these new tankers simply cannot access.


Should have read:

While the new tanker design from Boeing has this capability, there are still several locations that even both of these new tankers simply cannot access.

While the NG/EADS AC significantly better than the 135's I simply do not know if they can take off in under 8k ft.


By Amiga500 on 6/20/2008 4:46:04 AM , Rating: 2
The spec called for 7,000ft.

Both aircraft meet it.


By ikkeman2 on 6/20/2008 2:53:16 AM , Rating: 2
a quick wikisearch: (only commercial base plane info was complete, field length range due to models):

707: MTOW take-off run : 8.3 - 10.8 kft
767: MTOW take-off run : 5.6 - 9.5 kft
330: MTOW take-off run : 7.3 - 8.2 kft

So either competitor can take-off from any base the 707 can get out off.

Homework is FUN!!
:-)


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By TakeoE on 6/20/2008 1:17:28 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, most of the issues related to runway support has to do with the pressure distribution (weight / # and size of contact patches with the runway), it's not a simple matter of measuring the weight. It's quite possible the A330 MRTT (the ground pressure distribution figures aren't anywhere where I can find them yet) would be able to operate from fields that a KC-767 can.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Manch on 6/21/2008 11:49:50 AM , Rating: 2
Weight distribution was irrelevant to my reply.

The point I was making in my reply is the USAF does base tankers at locations that limit them from taking off at max capacity. A standard NATO runway (8k ft) is not long enough for a fully loaded KC-135 to take off from.


By cjc1103 on 6/20/2008 10:38:25 AM , Rating: 2
I flew tankers in the Air Force, and while they do generally land at large Air Force bases, they can land at smaller austere airfields if need be. The criteria for choosing a base is not that a C-5 can land there also, it is that support is better for the aircrews, fuel, maintenance etc, and they have the long runways necessary for large airplanes. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard tankers usually are based at commercial airports because of convenience. It's nothing to do with the small vs large argument. Also the Airbus tanker even though it is larger then the Boeing tanker, could still park in the footprint of the existing 707-based KC-135 tanker, that was a requirement in the contract. Boeing's 777 would not have met this requirement, so it was not offered. The big argument for operational cost is the Airbus will deliver more fuel and/or cargo, but if you don't need any more capacity than the 767 would deliver, then the 767 is more efficient. So it's matter of determining what the actual fuel offload and cargo reqirements are going to be in the future. Also C-17 cargo planes are better for straight cargo, maybe they should buy more of those, but with the current political situation, no more are being bought, and Boeing is shutting down the C-17 production line.


By FITCamaro on 6/19/2008 12:21:08 PM , Rating: 2
You make some good points.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By DASQ on 6/19/2008 12:46:43 PM , Rating: 2
I had a brief browsing of the protest originally, and they didn't specify exactly how much cheaper it 'would' be. In fact, they're even vaguer than that... 'over the life of the contract'. But then again, I don't have a copy of their RFP/contract with me, so I can't really comment further without undue speculation.

In reply to your claims on the aircraft themselves: All Dailytech articles and quotes therein claim the Airbus carries more fuel, can stay afloat for longer for further, and has greater volume in it's holds. The Air Force doesn't want smaller. How much more fuel efficient is the 767 effort? Aside from logistical concerns, even if the Boeing is quite a bit more fuel efficient, the Airbus can stay in the air longer anyway.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Keeir on 6/19/2008 1:06:05 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
All Dailytech articles and quotes therein claim the Airbus carries more fuel, can stay afloat for longer for further, and has greater volume in it's holds


Thats not in issue. The Airbus plane is significantly larger (~25%) and significantly more wieghty (~32%). I would point out that the vast majority of air refueling mission use no where near the current capacity of the 707 (which is much smaller than even the 767).

Looking at wikipedia, since neither Boeing nor Airbus are forthcomming directly of the specs of the tankers, a -200ER (a similar aircraft size as the Tanker), Has a Range of 12,200 km, and an empty wieght of 182 kips with max cargo of 214 kips. An A330-200 (again the base of the Airbus Tanker), a range of 12,500 km and an empty wieght of ~240 kips and cargo wieght of 220 kips. (Empty Wieght is minus all fuel, passengers, cargo but with the interiors)

So yep, at the expense of keeping an additional 60 kips of structure airbore, the A330-200 can carry an additional 6 kips of cargo an extra 300 kilometers than a 767-200ER. Therefore, the 767-200ER (on the surface) appears to be a much more efficient platform than a A330-200.

Oh, and a 767 is much more structurally effective than a A330, as even the airforce noted giving Boeing most of the "wins" on survivability of the aircraft, as well as any pilots/passengers.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By robertgu on 6/19/2008 1:49:19 PM , Rating: 3
The problem I have with this "Boeing lost because their plane is smaller and EADS's plane is bigger and more capable." Is that the Air Force originally demanded the smaller aircraft!

It wasn't until the 11th hour when EADS pitched a fit that it can't/won't compete for the Air Force contract unless the Air Force changed the eval criteria to give benefit to an aircraft which was larger than the original RFP that EADS promised to continue it's bid. EADS couldn't compete with Boeing on the original RFP terms and demanded that the Air Force change them and threatened to drop out of the bidding it they didn't.

If Air Force said they wanted a larger plane on the original RFP Boeing would have used the 777 instead.

This leads me to believe that the Air Force REALLY wanted and needed a smaller aircraft (as witnessed by the original RFP) but wanted to keep Boeing "honest" by having them compete hard for the contract. Which resulted in the Air Force caving to EADS's criteria change demands to favor a larger plane the Air Force didn't want to begin with.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Amiga500 on 6/19/2008 2:08:05 PM , Rating: 2
If Air Force said they wanted a larger plane on the original RFP Boeing would have used the 777 instead.

No. They wouldn't have.

Boeing are capacity limited on the 777 for when the USAF needs the tankers, so that is not an option.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By masher2 (blog) on 6/19/2008 3:17:20 PM , Rating: 2
> "Boeing are capacity limited on the 777 for when the USAF needs the tankers..."

Northrop hasn't even built the manufacturing facility to be used for their version of the tanker yet, so I don't think your argument here carries much weight. Boeing's chances of meeting the timeline with the 777 are at least as good as the KC-45s.


By Amiga500 on 6/19/2008 6:30:07 PM , Rating: 2
It is the assembly plant being built in the states. Manufacturing is already up and running.

Airbus have the capacity, Boeing don't (not while meeting their cost projections anyway).


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Amiga500 on 6/19/2008 1:38:52 PM , Rating: 3
The Boeing 767 should be significantly less expensive platform than the Airbus 330. Why? Because its -smaller-. That part never made sense to me, and the GAO found numerous errors that inflated the cost of the Boeing 767 proposal. (Note, some of them, like using Boeing 707 Tanker maintaince data rather than almost 30 years of 767 service History make no sense)

The A330 can carry more. It can thus service more planes. Require less cycles to do the same job, and can provide a useful airlift capacity.

In contrast a greater number of 767s are required to service the same aircraft, and a bespoke airlift fleet is required.

With regards the parts. The 767 for the USAF is a new variant. One that will have very little in common with commercial fleets.

The commercial line is on the brink of shutting down. Higher fuel prices will result in the 767 being phased out, leaving the USAF as the sole (or main) operator. Guess what that means = higher parts cost.

The 707 maintenance prices were included for that reason.


The Biggest thing in my mind, the Boeing 767 is significantly more fuel efficient as a platform than the Airbus 330.


Because it is smaller.

Now, when talking about fuel load and load factor, then the A330 absolutely destroys the B767.


At a time when most air refueling missions (the primary purpose of a tanker) do not require 100% fuel offload from Boeing 707, it doesn't appear to me that the larger capacity of the Airbus 330 makes a significant difference.


Except when range and airlift capacity are considered. You say air refuelling is the primary purpose of a tanker now, and indeed it is - because the current breed do not have the capacity to provide meaningful airlifts. The B767 will continue with that, while the A330 will change it.

I'll also point you to this link (lifted from the Air Force Journal of Logistics No.1 2002:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0IBO/is_1_2...

and I quote:

During the deployment phase of operations, fuel available for offload is the critical measure of effectiveness because CONUS-based fighting forces require large fuel onloads to fly nonstop to distant theaters of operation. Figure 2 shows AMC's current and forecast air-refueling capability as a function of fuel offload available.

The tanker fleet must be able to support the requirements for both fuel offload and aircraft availability. According to a June 2000 GAO report on military readiness, the KC-135 fleet falls below the required mission capability (MICAP) rates for ensuring execution of wartime plans. In fact, the GAO's findings state KC-135s maintained a 67-percent MICAP rate for execution of wartime plans as opposed to the 85-percent MICAP requirement.


Your spreading FUD... and a lot of it at that.


The 767 is almost as effective an airlifter, carrying almost as much cargo wieght using less fuel to a similar range as the A330.


Rubbish. Absolute utter rubbish.

Your pretty much saying the B767 is nearly as good as an A330 there... which of course explains why the A330 absolutely trounced the B767 in the commercial arena.


Oh, and Boeing already has the capacity to building the booms and hose systems to refuel all American planes.


But hasn't actually built the new boom as is required by the KC-767. NG has for the KC-45.

Airbus are supplying the A330 MRTT to other countries. For you to suggest they cannot supply the USAF for capacity reasons is disingenuous.


By DeathSniper on 6/19/2008 1:51:36 PM , Rating: 2
Thank god for someone who actually understands the purpose of a fuel tanker.

"Smaller and ligher..." I still laugh at the people who bring these points up - so THAT'S how they're going to be used to 'force multiply', more tankers! :p


By Ammohunt on 6/19/2008 2:08:16 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention Boeing has had the superior airframe on all their planes for decades. I have flown many miles on commercial airliners around the world and airbus planes are my least favorite Noisy rattle traps.


By PrezWeezy on 6/19/2008 6:23:34 PM , Rating: 3
It should also be mentioned that when Boeing first started the bidding they had a monsterous aircraft and the AF told them they wanted something small enough to land anywhere. So Boeing went back and started using the 767 as their base. Then when it came time to make the decision they went with the larger aircraft. That sounds somewhat damning to me...


By ikkeman2 on 6/20/2008 3:14:54 AM , Rating: 3
The KC-767AT concept proposal from boeing is an amalgamation of all current 767 versions. The -400 wing and cocpit, -200 fuselage, something like that (I don't know the exact origin of each part)
Therefore a large amount of engineering would have to be done to make it happen.
The KC-330 proposal from NG/EADS is based of the already flying A330MRTT. No mayor re-engineering required.
As an Aerospace Engineer please believe me when I tell you engineering is expensive (approx $10 billion for a new plane). Airbus needs to build a new plant, but that means $100's of millions, not billions, and EADS may pay this out of it;s own pocket. The cheap dollar elps there
This makes the Boeing proposal very expensive compared to the fuselage they offer.

The 767 is not more fuel efficient - it uses less fuel. Big difference. The AF looked at fuel offloaded per fuel consumed at different ranges, and the 330 won at all ranges... if the AF did their math right.

Oh, and boeing hasn't delivered a tanker or boom to the US in 40 years. EADS build and flew their proposed boom - boeing only showed paper.

on the last part we agree.
The airfarce really bungled this for the second time.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Gyres01 on 6/19/2008 12:24:06 PM , Rating: 2
True that, I got no prob with the "American" jobs, but with the Dreamliner bungle and almost every other contract years behind, trust in Boeing is sinking......Seems like too many fact lazy execs. crying again....


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By robertgu on 6/19/2008 2:04:59 PM , Rating: 2
Well it seems Boeing might be in good company because Airbus (EADS) has had considerably more problems over the last year and half than Boeing. The A380 debacle was so delayed and over budget that it required massive shakeups and a re-jigging of the nationally owned France-Germany corporate management structure.

I am inclined to believe that Boeing is more capable in delivering a reliable tanker on time with the RFP schedule than Airbus (EADS). Remember Boeing has been building and maintaining these types of tankers for 75 years. For Airbus (EADS) this is a new project and endeavor for them.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By robertgu on 6/19/2008 2:12:26 PM , Rating: 2
I forgot to mention that Boeing has already delivered this aircraft to Italy and Australia and it is currently in service.

EADS has not built or delivered a single version of this aircraft yet. At this point it is vaporware. Further reason why I have more confidence in the Boeing product being delivered on time than the EADS product.


By Amiga500 on 6/19/2008 2:18:06 PM , Rating: 1
FUD FUD FUD FUD.

Italy - 4 years late.
Japan - 2 years delayed.

The KC-767 airframe for the USAF is also quite different from what the above 2 countries received. These were B767-200ER airframes.

The KC-767 for the USAF uses -300 wings, -400 cockpit, avionics, nose and flaps and the -200 fuselage. It is only electronic at this moment in time.

The A330 MRTT is flying around right now. Google it.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Amiga500 on 6/19/2008 2:12:33 PM , Rating: 2
I am inclined to believe that Boeing is more capable in delivering a reliable tanker on time with the RFP schedule than Airbus (EADS).

Erm...

The KC-45 is basically the A330 MRTT airframe with a new boom. It is flying right now. Northrop have built and tested their new boom for use in the KC-45.

The KC-767 uses the 767-300 wings, the 767-400 nose/cockpit/flaps and avionics, and the 767-200 fuselage. It exists only on CATIA drawings. Boeing have not built or tested their new boom for the KC-767.

You still wanna talk about which has most technical risk?


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Keeir on 6/19/2008 4:08:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The KC-767 uses the 767-300 wings, the 767-400 nose/cockpit/flaps and avionics, and the 767-200 fuselage.


I really don't understand this point. The -200/-300/-300F/-400ER versions of the 767 are all built on the -same- production line using the -same- tooling. In fact, the -200/-300/-300F/-400ER use many of the -same- parts

Both Boeing AND Airbus has a long history getting thier computer models to accuractely predict airplane performance.

quote:
Boeing have not built or tested their new boom for the KC-767.


I am guessing, because the prototype... it works fairly well for the KC-135 in service. You know, a Boeing Made and Installed Boom working for 50+ years. Just a thought.

In truth, the risk is very great for both sides. Both sides are stretched to the limit to provide profitability in commerical business. Both are struggling with a major project (A380 versus 787), both are trying to expand capacity anyay (777 & A320), both are designing new aircraft (A330-200F/A350, 747-8/787-9), and both would be using two factories to complete the job. Still, I think a plane made of parts that have a supply chain, a production chain, and known processes (but not ever assembled) is better than taking an assembled plane that is going to be made by untrained workers in a new factory using a new process.


By Amiga500 on 6/19/2008 6:23:27 PM , Rating: 2
I really don't understand this point. The -200/-300/-300F/-400ER versions of the 767 are all built on the -same- production line using the -same- tooling. In fact, the -200/-300/-300F/-400ER use many of the -same- parts

Which is why the fuselage for the -200 series is 20ft shorter than the -300 and 40ft shorter than the -400... or why the wingspan for the -200/-300 is nearly 15ft less than for the -400... or why the -400 weighs 30% more than the -200...

Different aircraft with different avionics and different wings. The fuselage barrels are probably consistent, but that is about the height of it.

It is not a simple job to throw different parts together and simply produce a good aircraft. The Boeing effort will have to undergo basic certification, whereas that is already done for the A330 MRTT.


Both Boeing AND Airbus has a long history getting thier computer models to accuractely predict airplane performance.


LOL

Which is why Boeing are desperately trying to cut weight on the 787? Or Airbus had nightmares with the composite wingbox of the A400M?

I am guessing, because the prototype... it works fairly well for the KC-135 in service. You know, a Boeing Made and Installed Boom working for 50+ years. Just a thought.

Totally different booms - 50 years is a long time.

Do General Electric say "hey, we built a jet engine for the F-86... no need to do a prototype" for the F-22?

Do they f__k.

No matter how anyone can try and dress it up, the Northrop Grumman proposal carries MUCH less technical risk than the Boeing one. That is a simple fact.

In truth, the risk is very great for both sides. Both sides are stretched to the limit to provide profitability in commerical business.

I wouldn't be surprised if EADS are actually paying out a bit to get the Mobile factory up and running (even allowing for the USAF contract). They need an assembly line in the dollar zone to protect themselves against further currency fluctuations.

Oh, and another thing. If it happens, the KC-767 will be the B767's last orders, and the line will close upon completion. Now, are the USAF prepared to run 2 tankers when the KC-Y tender comes up down the line?

In contrast, the A330F line will definitely be open when KC-Y is out for tender - and fleet commonality can be maintained.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Screwballl on 6/19/2008 12:30:44 PM , Rating: 2
Most of the work and jobs would be right here in the US... in Mobile, AL... so what if a few parts are made overseas, this is a global economy and the isolationists are delaying a very important project.


By hcahwk19 on 6/19/2008 12:49:24 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly...if Northrop/EADS gets the contract, as they rightfully should, they are going to build a huge manufacturing facility in Mobile, creating thousands of jobs and bringing a huge influx to the local and state economy. Many of the major parts, like the engines, for the aircraft are already, or will be, manufactured here in the US. If the Airbus tanker was found to be the best one by the people who will actually be the ones to use it, then the f-ing politicians need to get out of the way, and should also be uncovered for the crooks they are.


By FITCamaro on 6/19/2008 2:13:43 PM , Rating: 2
Ok but the contract is more than just building the plane. It's designing the plane. Boeing's engineers are here in the US. EADS are overseas.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By ksherman on 6/19/2008 1:06:48 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe, but the issue is that all along the way, there where little errors that where made that skewed data and perceptions of the options in one way or another. This ruling is acknowledging that these errors where made and that in order to offer a fair bid price, they might have to go through the process again. Myabe the Airbus will win anyway, Boeing (and some politicians) got understandibly ticked because it was such a close call between the two options, even with data being unfairly skewed one way or another.

Personally, I think it sounds like Boeing has an outstanding case for getting the contract. Sure, their plane is a little smaller (not a bad thing!), but it is a cheaper plane and the larger size of the Airbus is offset by increased fuel usage and cost per plane. Additionally, Boeing has been making the KC-135 for a looooong time, they have the experience to know what works and what doesn't and how to move ahead with better designs, with less hangups along the way.

And sure, Boeing has been tripped up a bit with the Dreamliner as of late (are they really to be blamed for the supply issues though?), lets not forget that Airbus had worse issues with their A380 so both companies have had their share of delays.

Go BOEING!


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By FITCamaro on 6/19/2008 2:15:54 PM , Rating: 2
Airbus's A400 isn't doing any better in terms of delays either.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By Amiga500 on 6/19/2008 2:18:47 PM , Rating: 2
Very true.

I believe that delay is engine related.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By aeroengineer1 on 6/19/2008 4:46:58 PM , Rating: 2
Amiga500,

While I am impressed at your tenacity in posting about the subject, I think that your emotions about either the posters or the fact that the ruling did come in favor is somewhat causing you to loose credibility.

The basis of your arguments seem to center around the fact that bigger is better. If this was unilaterally true, then Airbus would have offered the A380. Clearly what is at stake here is that the US government offered a contract and set performance terms. It specified that exceeding those performance terms did not merit extra consideration. Basically here is the job that we need done, if you do other things that is not important, we just need this job done. It is not to say that there could be a better method of giving contracts. With this in mind, had the USAF specified they wanted a larger aircraft, with more payload capacity, then a 777 derivative may have, and may still be offered.

Now to some fact checking of your previous statements about the fact that the A330 is beating the B767 in the market place. I think that you need to recheck your numbers here as there are some errors and misinformation. While yes it is currently selling at a faster rate than the B767, the A330 has not been anywhere near as successful. Airbus has currently delivered about 543 aircraft (this number is different by now, but I could not find the most current number, this number is accurate as of May of this year), while Boeing has delivered about 962 aircraft. Before it is said that the B767 is 9 years older, and hence it should have delivered more, we can normalize the numbers to see average annual rates. If we look at that the B767 has some clear advantages. (numbers rounded to nearest whole number)

B767
Airframes delivered average per year: 40
Average orders per year: 34

A330
Airframes delivered average per year: 36
Average orders per year: 44 (though unable to confirm if order number included A340 orders as well)

Time to reach over 543 deliveries
B767: 13 (560)
A330: 15 (543)

When we look at these numbers we can see that the Boeing line we understand that the B767 is being phased out with the B787 about to enter into service. The A330 will see the same fallout here in the next few years as the A350 takes over that product range.

So what does this all mean in relation to the GAO ruling? The GAO found that the USAF decided that it wanted something different later in the bidding process and did not let the other party know. Now that the contract probably will get rebid, it will be interesting to see how the airforce offers the new contract. It is possible that the contract gets split, that Boeing offers a mix of 767 and 777 versions, which should still mean that Airbus still gets the contract.


By Solandri on 6/19/2008 5:33:43 PM , Rating: 2
I looked into those B767 and A330 delivery numbers too. The 767 is an older design based on older technology. At the time it was introduced it did better than the A330 when it was introduced. But in head-to-head competition with the A330 it was indeed beaten hands down. And that's essentially what the USAF is doing here - putting the two in head-to-head competition.

I do wonder though how much of the A330's commercial success is due to technical superiority as Amiga500 claims, and how much is due to it being able to take the larger LD3 cargo containers two-abreast (the 767 can only take LD2s two-abreast, or a single LD3 with lots of waste space). Airlines like to standardize on one size ULD so they can quickly switch it to a different plane, so the larger LD3 is more ubiquitous. However, I would imagine the USAF doesn't really care about LD2 or LD3 capacity on a refueling tanker.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_Load_Device


By Amiga500 on 6/19/2008 6:52:27 PM , Rating: 2
Regarding size. As with all things aeronautical, there is a compromise, here it is between bigger aircraft versus more aircraft. There is a happy medium, the B767 is too small, A380 too big.

Or conversely, the A330 has a total of 943 orders (A340 and A330 orders are around 1330), while the B767 (with 8 more years) has a total of 1010... :-)

The A330 is still selling strong (especially the freighter variant) with the A350 just around the corner. With Boeing's Dreamliner woes, the gap between B787 and A350 being introduced is ever shrinking.

Yeap, the USAF did change requirements. I have seen Boeing's press releases at the time that stated they were happy with it. Then they lose and the toys get chucked out of the pram.

I don't believe the contract will be split. There is already KC-Y on the horizon, and the USAF will want to avoid a possible mix of 3 different aircraft (as I mentioned elsewhere, the A330 will still be around for that, 400 a/c still to be delivered not including the USAF deal. The 767 won't be around for that contract - a consideration for the USAF).


By FITCamaro on 6/19/2008 4:49:40 PM , Rating: 2
Well assuming it kept its current pace when I worked on it, the network system that interfaces the entire plane is behind schedule too.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By robertgu on 6/19/2008 1:26:34 PM , Rating: 2
DASQ: It might be a good idea to re-read the article.

"Further stacking future proceedings in Boeing's favor, the GAO reported that the Air Force performed "unreasonable" cost/performance analysis with regards to the Northrop Grumman/EADS entry versus Boeing's competing entry. Had those errors not have been made; the GAO concluded that Boeing would have been the low-cost champion of the competition, and likely the overall winner."

Even the Air Force admitted during questioning that they made a number of errors in calculating TCO which if corrected would have resulted in Boeing's offering being superior.

"The GAO said that during testimony the Air Force "conceded that it made a number of errors…that, when corrected, result in Boeing displacing Northrop Grumman as the offerer with the lowest probable life-cycle cost."

http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/conten...


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By DASQ on 6/19/2008 2:25:39 PM , Rating: 2
I read that part.

The never specify exactly what the difference was in stated and estimated costs. "Likely the overall winner". 'likely' huh. That's nice speculation there. Probably sorta maybe might've made the Boeing more competitive.

'We're 1.3% cheaper' is not exactly a resounding win for Boeing.


RE: That's not quite how it works...
By rudolphna on 6/19/2008 5:48:01 PM , Rating: 2
Not really. The Boeing 767 is an excellent, proven airplane. Would you rather spend $35billion on a NEW and BEtter plane, or a PROVEN plane? Personally, I would take the Boeing 767. Its a very good plane. Not to mention, it uses American Built engines as opposed to Airbus using IAE (International Aero Engines) built by a European Consortium. the Boeing uses GE, Pratt and Whitney engines. This is why i refuse to buy a foreign car, because I grew up in Lorain county ohio, where there are 2 Ford plants. You live there, you buy anything that is foreign, you get funny looks from people, like what the hell is wrong with you. Support your contry, let the rest of the world support Airbus.


By ElFenix on 6/19/2008 11:54:21 PM , Rating: 2
the A330 isn't exactly new and unproven. they are over 500 of them flying around right now, and about 350 A340s, which shares a lot of parts with the A330 (they're probably closer than the 757/767 series, at least for the initial run)


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