Boeing NewGen tanker will be called the KC-46A
Pentagon awards KC-X contract to Boeing

Is there finally light at the end of the tunnel? We surely hope so because today the USAF -- for the third time -- announced a winner of the lucrative KC-X tanker contract. Boeing won the first time around, but the contract was rescinded. Northrop-EADS won when the contract was put into play for a second time, but Boeing successfully lobbied to have the award overturned.

This time Boeing has been awarded the contract to produce 179 aircraft to replace the aging fleet of KC-135 tankers. The tanker will be designated KC-46A and the first deliveries will occur in 2017. Boeing says that the KC-46A will support 50,000 jobs and 800 suppliers across 40 states.

"We're honored to be given the opportunity to build the Air Force's next tanker and provide a vital capability to the men and women of our armed forces," said Jim McNerney, Boeing chairman, president and CEO. "Our team is ready now to apply our 60 years of tanker experience to develop and build an airplane that will serve the nation for decades to come."

"This contract award would not have been possible without the hundreds of Boeing employees across the entire company, and the thousands of our industry teammates, who remained laser-focused on our commitment to offer a solution that is first in capability and best in value,” said Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. "This award is also a tribute to the Air Force and Defense Department officials who worked so tirelessly to make this procurement process fair, ultimately resulting in the selection of the right plane for the mission. We look forward to working with our Air Force customer to deliver this much needed capability to the servicemen and women we are honored to serve."

"What a great day for The Boeing Company, and for the 11,000 aerospace workers in Washington state alone that will play a role in assembling the NewGen tanker," said Washington Governor Chris Gregoire. "Following an open, transparent process, the Department of Defense realized what I’ve been saying all along – and that is that Boeing has designed the safest, most cost-effective tanker to serve both our military and our taxpayers well. 

"I commend The Boeing Company for its determination and tremendous work to land this contract. This was an arduous process, and Boeing deserves our praise for its commitment to its workforce, as well as the men and women that serve in the U.S. Air Force."

EADS will have a chance to protest this latest verdict, but there isn't any indication at this time that it will.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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