EADS will likely win tanker, says Boeing consultant

Update, Dec. 9, 5:00 AM PST:

Politico has this profile on Loren Thompson.

Flight Global reports Brazil may select the KC-45 to replace its Boeing KC-137 (KC-135).

Update, 5:00 PM PST: Dominic Gates now has his story on this topic here.

Original Post:

George Talbot of The Mobile Press Register posted this story today in which Loren Thompson, an aerospace defense analyst who has done work for Boeing, says Boeing has concluded EADS is going to win the KC-X tanker competition.

In Talbot’s article, Thompson once again advances the Boeing line about WTO and Airbus’ illegal subsidies as evidence of a USAF “bias toward EADS.”

There is just one problem with this line of allegation with respect to the WTO issue:

US law doesn’t allow the USAF to take the WTO panel finding into account, and Thompson, Boeing and its Congressional supporters know it.

US Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Boeing/WA) introduced an amendment to the Defense budget bill in the House earlier this year that would require the USAF to take the matter into account. This action alone demonstrates Congressional recognition that the Air Force doesn’t have the authority to take the WTO finding into account. US Sen. Patty Murray (D-Boeing/WA), who has made a career out of this issue, has introduced a similar amendment in the Senate. This also validates the USAF position. “Bias” has nothing to do with its rejecting previous calls to not consider this issue. Both amendments, after initially calling on the USAF to only examine the Airbus subsidies (which had to be changed because even the US Trade Representative’s Office said this was illegal), Inslee added language to include all competitors (i.e., Boeing).

We previously wrote that this amendment is totally meaningless anyway, but it’s been approved by the House; it has not come up for a vote in the Senate.

But that’s not all. We said just one problem; actually there are a whole lot more:

  • Even if the Inslee amendment was adopted by the Senate and became law, how in the world can you apply it?
  • WTO-Airbus is under appeal. What if the WTO board overrules the panel?
  • WTO-Boeing is in the early stages. What are the subsidies against Boeing to take into account (as called for in Inslee)? The Interim Report is confidential; we don’t know the number. Will the Draft Report and Final Report be public by the time the USAF issues its contract (at the rate and incompetence of the USAF, we could cynically say yes, but January is supposed to be the date now so the answer is no). How can you apply Inslee when you don’t know one side?
  • How do you assess the subsidies? All $5bn against 179 airplanes? $5bn divided by the 1000 delivered and on order and prorate the penalty? $5bn against the 1,000+the unsold airplanes over the next decade (the assumed life of the A330 passenger program) and prorate it? What would these projected sales be? What about the freighter life beyond the passenger life?
  • What about the appeals? What if WTO overrules its panel on Airbus and ups or lowers the subsidies calculation, wouldn’t Boeing want higher subsidies to be taken into account? What if the WTO overrules the panel and finds in favor of Boeing on its appeal (USTR, actually) and numbers change? After the USTR appeals the WTO panel finding against Boeing, what then?

The whole WTO issue cannot be calculated, by current law, and from a practical standpoint because it’s far from over–unless a decision is made to suspend competition for the next several years in order to wait for the conclusion of all appeals at WTO.

But, then, the warfighter–who is supposed to be all-important here–has to wait. But, of course, this has never been about the warfighter, it’s always been about Boeing vs. Airbus.

Thompson, Boeing and the Congressional meddlers know all this, of course.

The solution, as we have been advocating for a couple of years, is to double the procurement and split the contract. Politically it is the only choice. But we have also written many times there are good strategic and operational reasons to do so.

We know that Defense Secretary Robert Gates says this will cost the USAF too much money. The interesting thing is that a Rand study, “Project Air Force, Analysis of Alternatives for KC-135 Recapitalization,” issued in August 2006, concluded:

“A fleet of medium to large (300,000 to 1,000,000 pounds maximum gross takeoff weight)
commercial derivatives is the most cost-effective alternative for KC-135 recapitalization.
That is, such a fleet would provide the required refueling capability at the lowest overall cost,
defined as the present value of all future production and operating costs. Fleets consisting of
just one kind of such aircraft or consisting of two kinds of them have comparable cost-effectiveness.” (Emphasis added.)

Interestingly, the AOA also includes this phrase in its conclusions:

…the decision of when to recapitalize should be based onconsiderations other than the present value of life-cycle costs. (Emphasis in original document.)

Life cycle costs, of course, have been a major point of contention. Boeing’s KC-767 will cost less on an operating basis than the larger EADS KC-45, and US Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Boeing/WA) insisted the USAF consider this (and it has). EADS argues that actually delivering the fuel costs less with the KC-45 than with the KC-767.

So we continue to encourage a split buy; replacing the KC-135s at the rate of 15 a year as currently proposed is a ridiculously low number. Strategically there are sound reasons to split the buy. Politically it is the only choice.

117 comments on “EADS will likely win tanker, says Boeing consultant

    • The US is certainly free to sole source this requirement – the USAF chose to compete it (maybe pressured by politics to avoid a lease deal 2). Now it seems even a staunch Boeing man like Thompson feels the A330 should win when irrelevant data such as the WTO case is not considered. Maybe Thompson recognizes the supremacy of the A330 as an tanker platform? and uses the WTO as a smoke screen to try and get the award illegitimately shifted to the side that pays his bills?

      I know I heard that suggested somewhere…

  1. Considering the task & the time scales involved for Boeing to bring it’s NG offering to life in it’s proposed USAF guise actual EIS could well stretch ten years hence.

    A split buy will assist in pacifying the Boeing lobbyists, but will not be well received by the AF who have for some time now have made it clear they prefer the EADS product for a host of reasons, the most convincing of which are it’s availability ,capability & versitality.

    • We’ve seen what EADS has done with the A400M. Of course, part of the reason wasn’t their fault.

      Regardless, I don’t see how Boeing would have a problem bringing forward its tanker…

      In terms of “capability & versatility” that’s basically based on size more than anything else IMHO.

      • We’ve also seen what EADS did on the aussie tanker, and what Boeing did on the Japan and Italy tankers.
        Why would you chose to use the A400m example rather than the much more pertinent tanker examples?

  2. GEEZE- once again, BA may very well snatch defeat from the Jaws of victory

    The potential/actual screw ups go back to 2001 when Rudy de leon and the then current McDummy gang involved in the tanker game claimed- incorrectly – that if SPEEA were to interfere in the tanker lease program by filing a CounterVailing Duties Petition ,it would be claimed ( incorrectly ) that Boeing had put them up to it. What we didn’t know at the time was the Sears-Dryun- Condit- DeLeon – and a few others were doing a much better job of sinking the lease program . .

    Thus, Boeing squelched the filing by SPEEA, by simply subverting the Executive Director and a few other people.

    Its Deja view all over again !

      • Of course of course

        the comment is a deliberate parody of a long ago baseball player Yogi Berra

        . . .”It’s déjà vu all over again”. Berra explained that this quote originated when he witnessed Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris repeatedly hit back to back home …

  3. In the previous KC-X contest, we at NA KOA proposed the largest aircraft allowed in the KC-135 AoA — a hybrid of the 747-8 carrying pax on the upper deck, cargo on the main deck and a boom with pods for the refueling role. With belly aux tanks taken from the 747-400ER we estimated the aircraft could carry over 500,000 lbs of fuel. Just about everyone said it was too big and that the USAF wanted the smaller 767 but as we all found out, in the end USAF picked the “larger” A330.

    When you consider the language pasted (above) from the AoA which we quoted fairly often in our discussions with the USAF and Boeing, the 747-8 we proposed along with a smaller 767 or 330 would meet a mixed buy. The next problem areas are likely to be in the Asia-Pacific region and SECDEF Bob Gates said as much. That means long-range refueling capability. If the 747 was too big, why was an aircraft it size even in the AoA?

    We tend to forget that the 767 was originally the only aircraft that the USAF leadership, Boeing and the people in Congress who created the KC-X program wanted. But after the Druyan scandal, the reality of the best aircraft for the mission has keep getting in the way for Boeing and thier supporters. That of a larger and more efficient platform.

    By continuing to insist that the 767 is the right-sized aircraft the USAF wants, I believe Boeing keeps missing the size target.

    One last item. When we first got involved in the previous KC-X go-around, the Contracting Office also sent us an email with an attachment that we should not have gotten. Per their request we deleted it unopened. Sad to see it happened again.

  4. As I said in a comment in the earlier thread “Laying the groundwork for a Boeing appeal on KC-X,” Loren Thompson’s posturing on behalf of Boeing indicates that they didn’t like the outcome of the IFARA analysis.

    George Talbot:

    Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va., said EADS has emerged as the clear favorite for the coveted deal, based on the Air Force’s internal analysis of the two competing bids.

    “Boeing has lost this competition,” Thompson said, citing conversations with Boeing executives. “The only question now is whether they choose to protest the award, and I’m not sure they will.”

    and

    Thompson, who has advocated for Boeing in the tanker contest, said Friday that he spoke to Boeing officials close to the competition. He said that, after reviewing the data, they concluded that EADS held a substantial edge in the Air Force’s assessment.

    “Basically they saw how they stacked up in the warfighting effectiveness analysis, and they did not stack up well,” Thompson said. “The Air Force continues to favor the larger plane” offered by EADS.

    The IFARA analysis is based on a complex computer modeling program that measures the effectiveness of each plane in a series of battlefield scenarios. The score could weigh heavily in a tight competition between two aircraft that offer different features.

    Now, I can’t seem to recall that Boeing at any point complained about the IFARA model after the Air Force released the KC-X draft RFP release and before the final solicitation was issued. There was some complaining from Boeing that the fixed-price development and procurement structure expose the companies to too much risk, but not to the same extent as NG which viewed a fixed-price contract as a non-starter. But then, of course, they didn’t mind that NG was threatening to pull out of the competition alltogether, as it was easy to take the “high road” when they thought they might be a sole source provider. However, in May there was some talk about not bidding, but still no complaints about IFARA:

    http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?c=AIR&s=TOP&i=4627333

    Thompson said Boeing had some objections to the way the Air Force structured the analysis, but that the company’s greater concern was a “pattern of bias” that appeared to skew the competition in favor of EADS.

    OK, so now they have “some objections” after having seen the IFARA score for the A330-MRTT. That’s pretty lame. Both Boeing and NG (and EADS at a later date) were tutored seperately at WPAFB on how to run the different models, but only now, at this point in time, after having seen the scores for the A330-MRTT in the IFARA model, are they reportedly raising their objections.

    Again, Loren Thompson’s allegation on behalf of Boeing of supposedly a “pattern of bias, is therefore nothing but posturing.

    Scott, as for doubling the procurement and splitting the contract, may I suggest that a combination of A330-MRTTs and KC-777s would, in my opinion, be a much better option since taxpayers would get much more bang for the buck if USAF would combine the KC-X and KC-Y/KC-Z procurement programmes. True, the 777 frame is more expensive than the 767; by about 40-50 billion dollars per unit at about the same 45 percent+ discount level. However, the militarization of a KC-777 shouldn’t cost much more than that of the KC-767, and remember, the KC-767 version as offered to UASF is still just a powerpoint presentation. ;-)

    • True, the 777 frame is more expensive than the 767; by about 40-50 billion dollars per unit at about the same 45 percent+ discount level.

      That was supposed to be 40-50 million dollars per unit at about the same 45 percent+ discount level. :-)

      • Scott, if EADS wins perhaps the Boeing Congressional Lobby would be more than ready to talk about a possible compromise and I’m sure that Boeing would be more than happy to offer a KC-777. Such a scenario could entail combining the KC-X and KC-Y/Z into one procurement programme.

    • I’d like to throw my vote behind this – the 777 is really the only option for the KC-10 replacement, and why not start that a little (~5 years) early (avoid the A351). get EADS to work full out and get the mrtt line in the states running (push them enough and it’s browny points to Boeing – “You see, they can’t deliver”, and get the 777 tanker done in ~5 years, the KC-X should be ramped up by then, and the USAF can then ramp up the KC-Z. KC-Y can be competed between the 777 and 330.

      It avoids adding an outdated airframe to the USAF inventory, spending billions on replacing rather than improving a critical requirement or a lot of political mess on not choosing Boeing.

      Of course these are all benefits to the USAF, not Boeing. Boeing simply wants to ship another (2?) hundred airframes of a badly selling airframe and keep a line open that’s barely ticking over waiting for the USAF order. Where’s the benefit for Boeing to add USAF orders to a line that’s already maxed out?
      Maybe the deal could be that the USAF pays for an engine upgrade and thus finance the 777neo (if i may be so bold to call it that) in preparation for the A351?
      Get the P&W GTF on the 777?

      EADS gets their US FAL, Boeing gets an upgraded 777, the USAF gets valuable, modern a/c and Congress gets to thump their chests for allowing the democratic, commercial, capitalists (whatever ideology) system to show the world it’s the best and only way forward.
      everybody happy?

  5. Just where, Leeham, is the USAF going to get the money for a ‘split buy’, including base infastructure improvements, fuel usage, spares, crew training, and matenance/depot costs for two different types? Not to mention if we split the buy at 90/90 of each tanker the $35B to $40B KC-X program increases in costs from day one as each OEM, knowing they will get half of the order can charge whatever they want. EADS might be able to balance its books on the A-350, A-380, and A-400 programs on the backs of the American tax payer. Perhaps they should cut the F-35 planned buy in half, or even cancel the buy altogether so we can have 2 new tankers?

    It would make no military sense to fly 4 different tankers (3 of the 4 types flying the exact same mission, the KC-135, KC-767, and A-330MRTT) for the next 20 or so years, when a single medium and a single large type will effectively do the job. This still doesn’t address the KC-10 replacement in the KC-Y program, neither the A-330MRTT nor the KC-767NG can replace the KC-10.

    The US Government is out of money. They have outspent the budget by well over $1 TRILLION in the last 2 years alone. We cannot do that forever, China will eventually run out of money to loan us.

    The split buy (90 KC-767NGs and 90 A-330MRTTs) is probibly the most expensive option, in total costs for the USAF of any of the other options of;
    Buy 179 KC-767NGs
    Buy 179 A-330MRTTs
    Buy 155 KC-747-8Fs
    Buy 155 KC-777Fs
    Reengine/update 108 KC-135Es, and buy 69 KC-767NGs

    Medium sized tankers (KC-135s, KC-767s, A-330s) do not, and will not move very much cargo or troops. That is not the military mission for them, they will be tankers more than 95% of the time. If you want to move cargo and refuel, then get a bigger airplane (in capability, not size), like the B-777F or B-747-8F. Then you don’t have to worry about the cargo floor on your A-330MRTT not being level to load/unload cargo, EADS is not offering a tanker version of the A-330-200F).

    • KCBoom,

      If you accelerate the procurement, you get rid of the KC135s sooner.

      If you are going to have a sole source, then we have long said the KC-45 is the better choice. (You can argue with this, of course, but this has been our view from the start of the 2008 competition. In this case, you would have three types for a lot longer than 20 years anyway. Why not do four for a shorter period and return to three sooner?

    • Buy 150 A330MRTTs and 150 KC-777s at 15 units each per year from, let’s say, 2017. In 2027 you’ve got 300 new tankers, which BTW should be more than enough tankers considering the much better fleet effectiveness. Retire ALL of the KC-135s and KC-10s by the year 2027. More up-front costs initially, but USAF will save a tremendous amount of money down the line. Problem is, of course, that politicians are not very good at thinking long term.

      • Just 300 tankers, of any combination, is not enough, according to the USAF’s own numbers. Currently the USAF has 474 tankers (415 KC-135R/Ts and 59 KC-10As). The USAF has consistantly said they need a minimum of 525 KC-135 equivelent tankers, plus the KC-10 capability to meet what is believed to be one of three projected war/mobility demands it expects placed on it for future conflicts. It is these projections that drives all USAF weapons systems numbers, from fighters, to bombers, RECEE, tankers, airlift, CCC, etc.

        This is what is drives keeping the KC-135s around until both KC-X and KC-Y programs are completed, and the KC-Z program is well under way.

        This number translates directly to the minimum number of Booms in the air, no matter what type aircraft those Booms are attached to. We all know the USAF is a global force, and tankers are the life blood of that global force. We also know that global force cannot be based on the amount of fuel aboard each tanker for transfer to receivers, but the number of Booms those receivers have access to during deployment, enployment, and redeployment.

        Also the issue of a higher “up front cost” to modernize the tanker fleet is a true economic issue that will force the USAF, as well as the Congress to make choices it may not want.

        Finally, I still believe the A-330MRTT does not have the wide support it will need from this, or the next Congress to fund it. If the A-330 is selected, Congress will have a difficult time justifying it to an American public just at the time when Americans need jobs the most. While EADS has claimed their offer produces some 48,000 US jobs, they have done a very poor job at outlining just what, where, and how much pay those produced jobs will provide. Boeing has claimed some 50,000 US jobs, but has outlined, by state, just where and how many jobs their offer will produce.

        That is exactly what FDR did in 1935 to 1940 when he began building new Battleships and and Bombers for the USN and USAAC to help get the US out of the Great Depression and prepare for WWII, which he knew we would eventually become involved in.

        That (the issue of US jobs) may not be as important to the USAF, but it is a political reality the Congress will face when they are asked to fund the new tanker. Just how important are jobs to the US Congress? All you have to do is look at the number of C-17s the USAF has requested in recent years (0) and the number the Congress has funded (22).

      • The USAF requires 525 KC-135 equivalent tankers – that number should be divided by the IFARA score to find out how many tankers are required to deliver that requirement. 300 x 1.79 = 537…
        do you believe a KC777 will have a lower IFARA score than the KC330?

        And medium sized tanker do not now move much cargo because they are KC-135’s. They’ve got tanks filling up the space where cargo could have gone.
        Both B and A allow much more cargo to be moved, A with the added benefit that it uses no fuel bladders. it holds the 250klbs in it’s internal tanks. B baseline only holds 180klbs internally, so an extra 20klbs needs to be installed to even meet the KC-X requirement.

        There’s is nothing driving the USAF to keep using the geriatric KC-135 other than those that fly ‘m. replacing them quickly is no more expensive than replacing them slowly.

        The backbone of the global force is suffering from Osteoporosis. the requirement is driven by how much quickly fuel can be offloaded to how many receivers. This is part of the IFARA analysis, and neither B or A seem to have questioned that part much…

        And yes, we agree. Boeing could win simply because politics can twist the USAF’s arm. So yes, the lesser platform may end up being ordered.

      • ikkeman, last time around the IFARA score for the A330-MRTT was 1.9. Assuming a KC-777 would be scoring well above 2, you would have more than 600 KC-135 equivalent tankers with 150 A330-MRTTs and 150 KC-777s, which of course, would be more than enough considering, among other things, the hangar queen status of just too many KC-135 frames: Up to 19 percent of the KC-135s are in depot at any one time; or about 80 aircraft.

    • A33F ~200 million, B77F ~260 million, 9 each/year = 4.14 billion (~0.6% of the defense budget, 700 billion).
      You award say, 12 a year each (1/month rate), and compete another 6 each year. it’ll motivate the competitors to keep lowering their costs – EADS to move extra work to their US FAL, Boeing to sell more 767’s. And it could help move even more work to the US when the gov’t figures out a way to account the portion of the money that’s spend in the US (Maybe see how much comes back as taxes from both teams).
      That’s 30 a year for 7 billion. You retire KC-135 faster to recoup some of the extra expense.

      than the problem becomes that you generally need fewer of the bigger type… Maybe award portions of the tanker budget – see how many frame’s each competitor offers for that money, and there’s an extra few billion for the team that performs better.

  6. As far as I can see only 3 options are open to USAF:
    1. Just give it to Boeing – Popular among the Boeing Congress fans + hopefully that will make Thompson stop blogging, who seems to be begging for publicity every other day.
    2. Split contract – Probably an unlikely outcome but still a possibility, which should not be discounted just yet.
    3. Stop KC-X and re-engine KC-135E (I guess with GTF?) – A possibility but that would mean the closure of the 767 line in due course. That last bit will not be particularly popular with Dicks among others and hence we will probably go round in circles until we arrive at option 1.

  7. I’m still struggling with the idea that the USAF would choose an aircraft that is physically larger than the KC-10 (a 30% larger footprint and yet carries nearly 100K less fuel – both compared to the KC-10) as a KC-135 replacement. I just don’t think it makes sense.

    • Yes, the DC-10 had a small, inefficient wing (wing loading KC-10 145 lb/ft2, A332 68 lb/ft2).
      Also, if the a330 burns 24% more than b767 AND the numbers in AFPAM10-1403.pdf are used, an KC330 would burn only as much as an KC135, or about 60% of KC-10…
      That’s what an more efficient wing does for you. Engines help to of course, but they don’t improve the aerodynamic properties.

  8. Pingback: About the tankers... - Page 4 - Airline Pilot Central Forums

  9. Boeing should now lobby for the competitive split buy. The Air Force should push for a solution that will meet their needs and end the appeals asap. It’s time to stop talking about the need and start manufacturing planes. This would be the first real jobs program since Obama took office. A split buy employs 98,000 Americans at the earliest opportunity.

    • My expectation would be Boeing going for “Boeing takes all”
      independent of whoever might be tagged “winner”
      in any of the iterations of this “competition”.
      i.e. Boeing will trot out its army of zombies every time
      until this contract is theirs.

  10. ikkeman, I see you have never been on a KC-135, have you? The fuel tanks in the KC-135 have a capacity of 202,000 lbs of fuel, not 180,000 lbs. There are no fuel tanks in the cargo compartment. Only the ‘upper deck fuel tank’ is above the main cargo deck (the other 9 fuel tanks are below the cargo floor and in the wings), and it is at the extreme aft end of the cargo compartment, aft of the Boom Pod, that area is unuseable for cargo and troops anyway. So yes the KC-135 can carry up to 83,000 lbs of cargo if the max fuel load is reduced to stay at or under the MTOW of 322,500 lbs. This is no different than the A-330MRTT or the KC-767NG, both can carry cargo and troops, or a max fuel load, but not both at the same time.

    Also, dispite the KC-135’s age in years, it has only been flown for about half its expected number of flying hours and cycles. Just because it is ‘old’ does not mean it is ‘tired’.

    • No, I’ve not been on an KC-135.
      I was however talking of the belly space, named by some the “cargo hold”… This is where freight usually goes on commercial a/c.
      I also do not know about the floor loading on a KC-135.
      I do know the KC-135 is based on the prototype of the 707, and it had it’s first flight in 1956 – I have/operate/use nothing that dates back to that era (other than some NACA documents now and again)
      I just found out a C-135 carries 46 troops more (>50% more) than an KC-135, despite the latter having a 25% higher MTOW. There must be some reason.
      (http://www.aerospaceweb.org/aircraft/transport-m/c135/)

      I know the dutch use their KDC-10’s as transports often and much. I know the USAF operates a large fleet of dedicated large transports that carry pax and packets much more efficiently than the KC-135 could. So I understand the USAF never makes the choice to use the KC-135 as transport.
      It’s replacement, either B767 or A330, will offer much better cost effectiveness when carrying something other than fuel. I am certain the USAF will not ignore such a capability when they have it.
      Also, I know the RFP specifically states airlift as a mandatory part of the KC-X system requirement. so any feelings we may have on the subject are irrelevant.

      Finally, I do not claim the KC-135 to be tired. I know it could be flown for much longer. My contention would be that it should have been flown more. If an airframe does not reach it’s design life (based on a safe-life assumption no less) in 30+ years, you’re not using it enough, and apparently, you don’t need as many.
      Other than that piece of marketing a couple of weeks ago (exercise canceled due to tanker shortage), have you ever heard of there being to few tankers. Have operations in the first days of desert storm taxed the tanker fleet to it’s limits? No.
      I claim only that the KC-135 is a product of the 1950’s. Engines were upgraded, but how much dead weight was removed from the airframe – trust me, it a lot more heavy than it could be.
      Current tactics and strategies have to be developed to work around the KC-135’s shortcomings – relative high fuel burn, low effectiveness as anything but a tanker, basing, operations, range, time on station. Any replacement will allow planners to be much more flexible and use the new gear much more intensively. Doctrine will evolve around new boundary conditions and allow the US army to move forward as a whole into whatever direction it needs without the restrictions of 1950’s gear.
      One competitor will allow more flexibility and usability than the other, and based on that I claim that one is better than the other. They both refuel and when bought in sufficient numbers, they’ll both get the job done. But one fits the flexible reality of today better than the other, and allows for more room to adapt to any future. Yes, the B767 could make a better pure tanker – but that isn’t and shouldn’t be what the AF is looking for.

  11. Re the update:
    If Boeing didn’t peek how do they come to the conclusion
    that they will not be the winner?

    Just the grapevine rumors and all that?

    That is definitely not the “positive spin” Boeing we know about.
    Something underhanded cooking to go off?

    • After the USAF looked at the computers it provided the OEMs for the KC-X program, they found the EADS actually opened the Boeing spreadsheet. So they then authorized both Boeing and EADS to view the documents in the files for the other’s offer.

      That is how Boeing nbow knows what it knows about the A-330 and EADS knows about the B-767.

    • Failed? Because you don’t like the possible, if not likely, outcome of the competition?

      On another note, it may look like Tricky Dicks & Co. are starting to resort to desperate measures:

      A congressional source who spoke on condition of anonymity said the data reinforced a growing pessimism among Boeing executives as to the outcome.

      “The confirmation of where they stood on IFARA pushes it over the top,” said the congressional source.

      Another congressional source said that some Boeing supporters are pushing to have the IFARA measure discounted altogether because of the disk mix-up that revealed the data to both sides.

      http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2013612153_tanker07.html

  12. OV-099 :ikkeman, last time around the IFARA score for the A330-MRTT was 1.9. Assuming a KC-777 would be scoring well above 2, you would have more than 600 KC-135 equivalent tankers with 150 A330-MRTTs and 150 KC-777s, which of course, would be more than enough considering, among other things, the hangar queen status of just too many KC-135 frames: Up to 19 percent of the KC-135s are in depot at any one time; or about 80 aircraft.

    OV-099, do you have any idea of what you are talking about?

    Prove the KC-135 is a ‘hanger queen’.

    The KC-135, like most USAF aircraft is on a 60 month depot schedule. That means each KC-135 will be scheduled for depot level maintenance once every 5 years. That is 20% of the fleet. Yes, the female USAF General did say 19% was in the depot at any given time, it should be 20%. So I guess the KC-135 is so reliable that 1% of them get a wavier and delayed depot scheduled input.

    The KC-135 fleet has an overall MCR of some 89%, 85% is the USAF standard. By comparison the C-5A/B has a MCR of just 60%, the C-17 and KC-10 are at 85%. So the old tanker is doing much better than her younger sister aircraft for mission relability.

    • You know, I knew you would respond. Stating that just too many KC-135 frames are hangar queens must sound blasphemous to you. ;-) The point here is though, that the aircraft availability for the KC-135 is currently hovering around the 60 percent mark. Compared to civilian airliners, quite a few military aircraft tend to be hangar queens with much lower availability, especially older ones. A new multirole tanker derived from a civilian platform, should have much higher availability rates.

      Mission capable rates for Air Force aircraft don’t tell the whole story on platform availability. Indeed, when factoring the aircraft that are in depot for routine overhauls as well as those that are assigned for duty, availability numbers for each aircraft type fall precipitously. For example, fighter availability rates are about 58.9 percent today, down from a recent high of 69.2 percent in Fiscal 2005. Airlift and tanker availability rates hover around the 60 percent range, as do those for special operations and combat search and rescue platforms. But only 44.8 percent of the bomber fleet is ready to go at any time, down from a peak of 57.2 percent in Fiscal 2002. The worst availability rate of any platform belongs to the B-2A, which is available for combat only 36.8 percent of any given time. (Worth noting, though, is that the entire B-2 fleet is only 20 aircraft, some of which still require laborious stealth surface preparation for combat.) The most available platform is the MQ-1 Predator, which is ready to go 80.6 percent of the time.

      http://www.airforce-magazine.com/datapoints/2009/Pages/AircraftAvailabilityIsDown.aspx

      Now, RAND pointed out in a 2003 study that We find that the Air Force should repair, rather than replace, an aging system if and only if the availability-adjusted marginal cost of the existing aircraft is less than the replacement’s average cost per available year.

      http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/2005/MR1763.pdf

      In Section 4, we analyzed the KC-135 tanker. Data suggest the KC-135 has had both worsening availability and increasing maintenance costs in recent years. We then combined our estimated aging effects with data on KC-135 operating and support costs as provided by our colleague Michael Kennedy. These data were then juxtaposed with estimates of the acquisition and operating costs of the 767 tanker, a potential replacement for the KC-135. Our finding was that it appears to be optimal to replace the KC-135 by the end of the decade, assuming KC-135 maintenance costs and availability continue to worsen on their current trajectory. Of course, with the natural lags in acquiring new aircraft, action would need to be taken in the relatively near term to implement this recommendation.

      • I agree, USAF MCRs are not the same as commerical airliner availabliity. Airlines and the military do different things with the aircraft, including the amount of time each flys per year. The USAF also has different maintenance standards (actually two different standards, peacetime and wartime) compared to the airlines, who operate off a MEL to determine if an airplane can fly. For example, an airliner can fly with a genarator inopertive, a peacetime KC-135 must have all three generators operating to fly (as little as 1 in wartime).

        The RAND study of 2003 (which I read a long time ago) never did take the historic budget realities of the Clinton Administration of the 1990s into account. This was the time period of the the “peace dividend” the President, and Congress was all giddy about, and slashed the military budgets. The military was cut by 40% in troop and equipment strenght. Maintenance budgets were also slashed by 40%, including PDM expendetures for the KC-135. That also happened during the Carter Administration, just not as deep. It took nearly all of the 1980s to recover from 4 years of Jimmy Carter, but only 4 yeaars to recover from the “peace dividend”. Why, well we had that little “incident” of the 9/11 attacks on US soil.

        That was the main reason why the KC-135, and other weapons systems needed all those days in PDM to be brought back up to speed. Over that time (1990s) corrosion did creep up on the KC-135 and it took time and money to deal with it.

      • KC, you’re talking about MCRs, I’m talking about military aircraft availability. Operational availability rates incorporate mission capable and depot rates to determine how many total aircraft the Air Force must purchase in order to yield the required number for operations. The higher the availability rate, the better. Modern aircraft utilize advances in design and technology (higher reliability and maintainability, increased intervals between phase inspections) to generate higher operational availability rates than older aircraft like the KC-135. Therefore, both the KC-767 and A330-MRTTT are new, commercial off-the-shelf airliners modified to accomplish air refueling, will have significantly availability rates than the KC-135s.

      • Therefore, both the KC-767 and A330-MRTTT are new, commercial off-the-shelf airliners modified to accomplish air refueling, will have significantly availability rates than the KC-135s.

        Should read: Therefore, new commercial off-the-shelf airliners (767, A330 etc.) modified to accomplish air refueling, will have significantly higher availability rates than the KC-135s.

    • Jay :
      Ok, will Boeing bow out gracefully or keep costing all of us who pay taxes more money?

      Jay,

      I think it’s both companies that are allegedly guilty of “costing all of us who pay taxes”. I’m keenly aware that this forum could never be accused of being “Boeing-friendly”, but please… Can you at least try to be evenhanded in your criticism?

      • I worked too many years patching up and finding fixes for these old birds (KC-135s and ECK-135s) when I worked for Big B over twenty years ago. Let the Air Force buy what they want, they know there needs better than we do.

      • To my eye EADS seem to be an invited guest with civilised behaviour while
        Boeing inhabits the role of distant but deranged relative bringing a bunch of less than savory friends to the party.

  13. Jay :
    I worked too many years patching up and finding fixes for these old birds (KC-135s and ECK-135s) when I worked for Big B over twenty years ago. Let the Air Force buy what they want, they know there needs better than we do.

    I don’t recall the European Govts. saying that when there were no bids on the A400M, especially the engine selection…

  14. Jay :
    I worked too many years patching up and finding fixes for these old birds (KC-135s and ECK-135s) when I worked for Big B over twenty years ago. Let the Air Force buy what they want, they know there needs better than we do.

    Jay,

    My husband flies those “old birds” every three weeks. And his opinion of what “the Air Force wants” differs from what many here “think” the Air Force should buy. “The Great Debate” as this discussion is characterized by many crews these days, has had so many twists and turns, hasn’t it?
    The Air Force claims that 223 C-17s are more then enough airlift for its mission, so it logical to ask, why are they (allegedly) placing such a high value on cargo capability with its next tanker fleet?
    I’m not convinced that Boeing has lost this just yet… My understanding is that the P-8A Poseidon program is a success and Boeing can point to it to show it’s Air Force customer how such an “old aircraft” can be a world renowned, state of the art, platform. Airbus? To me they want to set up a paint shop in Alabama and call that an “American” aircraft. Forgive my skepticism.

  15. According to the Boeing sources [who like the others may not be entirely straightforward] ,the EADS plane is both better and cheaper.

    A slam dunk then. Let’s buy Boeing!

    • I must have missed that, just where, FF, did Boeing say the EADS offer was both better and cheaper than their offer? Source?

      Joanne, great question. Just like the KC-135, the new tanker will not carry much cargo on to many missions. It will do refueling missions 95% of the time. The KC-135 is a reliable airplane, Boeing built a great one when they designed and built it. Like your husband, I flew the KC-135 during my 22 year USAF career, all of it in SAC, I was a Boom Operator.

      Unlike todays nearly deacde long ‘compitition’ to replace it, the KC-135 went from an original thought for a jet tanker (KC-135) and commerical jet transport (B-707) in 1953, to the B-367-80 flying prototype in 1954, to conversion to tanker prototype in 1954, to the first signed contract (for the first 29 tankers) in 1955. The first production KC-135 began USAF flight testing in 1956. Both Lockheed and Douglas competed for the new jet tanker contract against Boeing.

      • My Kit consisted of; an Italian designed pistol that as “assembled” in the USA, an American designed service rifle, (which was made by a Belgium company), then I would mount a Swedish designed, Canadian built light armored vehicle. Out to the field I went.
        Oh, I did have body armor (manufactured in the good old USA) that was suppose to stop 7.62X39 rifle round, but was recalled because it couldn’t stop a 9 mm pistol round over 40% of the time.
        I then spent $1000 dollars of my own to get body armor (made in Israel) that would actually provide some level of protection, because the other American made body armor wasn’t “approved” by the military.
        Yes, without a doubt, we should be able to design and manufacture equipment for our military here; but from my perspective, when someone is shooting at you, the country of origin of the equipment really doesn’t seem to matter, just as long as it works and works well.

        It does suck that Boeing may have blew it, and cost us jobs in the area, but I don’t expect our active duty soldiers, sailors and Marines to be stuck with equipment that can’t meet or exceed mission requirements.

  16. Joanne, I don’t have an opinion. In general, I think customers can choose whatever they want – it would be presumptuous of me or others to say they’re misguided. I’m not American so that gives me even less right to sound off.

    KC Boom, according to the Boeing sources quoted by Loren Thompson the Airbus A330 tanker scores well ahead of the Boeing 767 tanker in the mission-effectiveness rating. According to a congressional source allied to Boeing, EADS will likely underbid Boeing. From the Seattle Times article linked above.

    Boeing do however dispute the Airforce’s projected future fuel prices, which are finger in the wind values anyway. They also dispute the costs for infrastructure upgrades. Boeing assumes that the EADS plane will require additional infrastructure that is significantly more expensive than the additional infrastructure required for the Boeing plane.

  17. Jacobin777 :

    Jay :
    I worked too many years patching up and finding fixes for these old birds (KC-135s and ECK-135s) when I worked for Big B over twenty years ago. Let the Air Force buy what they want, they know there needs better than we do.

    I don’t recall the European Govts. saying that when there were no bids on the A400M, especially the engine selection…

    +++++
    While everyone focuses on airframe life measured in hours- appropriate for commercial since they fly ” every day ” for typically between 8 and 11 hours average- that same metric for military planes is phony. depending on kind of airframe, for example a fighter- they fly fewer hours by comparison, but much more stressful, and in the case of Navy, have major problems with corrosion.

    In a use such as tankers, the hours may be less, but the aging effects of materials AND corrosion become significant factors.

    As I recall, early tankers for example used spot welded aft sections, which became a fatigue and corrosion problem early on. then some models( 707-727) for a while used cold bonded skin panels, which had corrosion problems.

    AS I recall, and will probably be correct, both the spot welded and cold bonded versions of the tankers were essentially retired or went thru major – major rework.

    The latest ( newest ) models, although few in hours flown relative to commercial, are having significant corrosion and part old age problems, which are NOT going to get better in the next DECADE without extensive rework.

    For either the 767 or the EADS version, a higher production rate AFTER the first few could no doubt be possible, instead of 1 per month- and the ONLY thing missing to do that is $$$$$/year restraints. For every new tanker delivered, an older one could be retired, and the rework costs funneled into the purchase price of a ndew one. But the bizzare budget cycle and political games work to keep thebn ” not out of my budget’ game in full force.

    And so it goes – pick one pocket to fill another ..

  18. I live in Kansas where Boeing was going to build some the components for the 767 so we will have some direct financial impact if Boeing loses. However, let’s get real for a moment, the EADS plane is going to be built in Alabama, it has to by government contract. Whether jobs are in Seattle, or Kansas or Alabama, those jobs will still be in the U.S. which is good for our country. If EADS has a better plane that’s Boeing’s fault for proposing the old outdated 767 and all the baggage that goes with it. I’ve spent time researching both planes and everything I see indicates the A330 is a better plane and has more capabilities than the 767. One study even shows the fuel economy between the 2 planes as virtually even, so I’m not buying the fuel argument.

    On the subsidies issue why is it that articles mention the WTO finding against EADS but neglect to mention the WTO finding against Boeing? Boeing has received subsidies too, and only Boeing knows how much went towards the 767 and only EADS knows how much went towards the A330. In the end if the end result is that EADS produced a better plane then shame on Boeing for not using its subsidies to produce a better offering than the 767.

    Let’s sum up. EADS plane has more capabilities, it costs the US government less money and provides jobs in the US (yes Alabama is still in the US last time I checked) it would seem to be the obvious choice and I say that as someone whose state will be impacted by Boeing’s mismanagement of this process. All I’ve seen since it started is Boeing complaining about something meanwhile EADS seems to be heads-down on producing and delivering a better airplane.

    Look at the UK and Australia they are already flying these tankers and they love them. Read the interviews with their respective Air Forces of those countries, the pilots and the boomers. Since these planes are for the Air Force, isn’t that who we should be looking to for choosing which plane best meets their needs and the needs of our servicemen and women? This shouldn’t be decided on capitol hill by which congressman or congresswoman is getting the most pork.

    • The A330T will not be built in Alabama. It will be built in Europe and final assembly will be in Alabama. That is a BIG difference.

      Also, if Boeing loses, it hurts revenues and stock share price (not to mention closing down the B767 line), given that millions of individuals directly or indirectly own Boeing stock, its going to hurt people in the United States.. EADS shares, while in theory can be purchased in the United States is a bit more difficult for the individual investor.

      While this obviously shouldn’t be a major factor, it should certainly be one factor.

      If the B767T was so inferior to the A330T, it wouldn’t even be in the race right now.

      Bigger doesn’t mean better. The Air Force has changed the goal post already.

      I’m curious how the A330T will be cheaper than the B767T….

      Again, as I mentioned previously, where was the bidding for the A400M and especially for the A400M engines?

      • and any 767 plane will be build in japan/Italy and assembled in Washington (if the Washingtonians are lucky)

        So you’re saying the USAF should buy the 767 to help poor little Boeing float their boat? Or is it just that you’re over-invested in Boeing with your pension plan?

        The fact that the B767 is in the race does nothing to prove or disprove it’s capabilities. At best it shows Boeing’s believe in it’s own products, at worst it shows Boeing’s contempt for it’s customer.

        Bigger doesn’t mean better. But that doesn’t mean smaller is better either.
        the A330 plane was proved the better plane twice now. Boeing (and the USAF) frustrated this program with illegality and legality, but the a330 had highest scores for both attempts so far.

        the a330 can be cheaper than the 767 when Boeing tries to gain excessive profit. It shouldn’t be hard to underbid using a plane listed as 50million (25%) cheaper, but somehow they fail…

        There was no bidding on the A400m, it was a sole-source award. It was stupid and wrong. Are you proposing that’s the way to go? looking at the A400m, is that the future you wish upon the US? are you certain what you say is as patriotic as you intend it to be?

      • Jacobin 777,

        isn’t the A330 the plane that pretty well brought about the end of the 767 in commercial aviation?
        Why then not in this military competition?

      • “Again, as I mentioned previously, where was the bidding for the A400M and especially for the A400M engines?”
        There was none and everybody here knows it. There was also no bidding for the original tanker lease boondoggle and the original tanker purchase cockup.

        Sure, Airbus did try to stir things up to get in on it but really did not expect to get anywhere. Had the original purchase deal not had the problems with improprieties on the part of at least 2 people, it would have been all over and the fat lady would have sung her heart out on behalf of Boeing. Airbus and the EU would not have had much to say and it would have been story over. It might have even been that Australia and the other MRTT customers would have followed Italy’s and Japan’s footsteps. Coincidentally, these are 2 countries with large work packages on the 767. In other words, 2 countries where large portions of this “all American” plane are being built (but not assembled). Amazing, ain’t it?!

        Since there were those little ethical issues and as a result, it was decided to make the tanker purchase a competition.

        Would you agree, that it looks pretty crooked, odd, biased, distorted, perverted (pick a word, any word) to start a competition, run it once, start to run it again, cancel it and award a sole source contract to the homeboy?

        Long story short. If the US wants to award a sole source contract to the home player without a competition, by all means do so. But it is not something the US often does and it does not mean the EU, or any member country, is bound to do the same.

        It will be interesting to see if there will be any further competitions comign from the US government. Perhaps next time the USAF wants to buy something, they will merely order from Lockheed-Martin or Northrop-Grumman.

    • Neither the UK’s RAF, nor Australia’s RAAF are flying their A-330 tankers they have ordered. The RAAF tanker (KC-30A) is 4 years late, and is still in certification testing on the military side of the flight test program. The RAF tanker (which they are leasing from EADS) only began flight testing and certification this past summer, and still has a long way to go.

      • It may be late, but at least it’s flying and due for delivery.

        Not to mention they are both Airforces with a keen interest in expeditionary operations, far away from home. The A-330 airframe for Australia has already been certified. The process for the U.K variant, is purely adding a centerline drougue, instead of a boom.

        The 135, was built for sac, for refueling bombers. Back then it was the best available. It wasn’t because of it’s size, it wasn’t because of it’s particular advantages (with particular ignorance of NAVY interopability – a capability that’s still pathetic compared to most western airforces). It’s time this was acknowledged, less the U.S be left in the operational stone ages whilst other Airforces get more for their dollar and get a multi mission platform. It’s cheaper to charter your troops back home than it is to use 135’s, for the same reason the 707 died in commercial aviation decades ago.

  19. Personally I think Boeing knew they were in trouble from day 1 and somehow found 2 flunkies to deliberately send the wrong data discs.

    That’s why Boeing knew not to open the disc they received.

    Cue the prop, Loren Thompson, who does not seem to analyse but rather just talk to people in congress and people in Boeing and then comes out says his piece.

    As has been noted, this gives Boeing its chance at a protest.

    Or wait, this is how Boeing could legally get a look at the Airbus data on the IFARA and see just how bad the situation for them is!!

    Yeah, that’s it!!!

    • Aero Ninja, do you have proof Boeing got 2 people in the USAF contracting office to intentionally mix up the discs sent out to them and EADS? If you have that proof, please post it.

      No one on this blog knows what data Boeing and EADS has seen. The IFARA score is only one part of the 4 part evaluation. The others are LCC (including fuel costs), infastructure, and total estimated costs, as adjusted by those 3 factors, but not the IFARA factor.

      In the RFP/SRD the USAF identified 8 mission profiles that would be considered in the IFARA evaluation. The question is, did the USAF actually evaluate those 8 mission profiles, or did they evaluate different missions that would skew the ‘findings’ to one offer over the other?

      In the RFP/SRD the USAF also identified 3 ‘fuel usage rate profiles’ as operational air refueling mission, 54%, training air refueling mission, 45%, and operational airlift mission, 1%.

      That tells the bidders that 99% of the missions the USAF expects to fly the KC-X on will be air refueling missions, and cargo missions will be just 1%.

      https://www.fbo.gov/download/253/2538827bd21adb15bed0d01bab0f2dde/Sect_J,_Atch_1_-_SRD_24_Feb_10.pdf

      We all know the A-330MRTT is some 50% bigger than the KC-767NG, yet only carries 20% more fuel. We also know the Boeing claim the A-330 tanker would burn some 24% more fuel than the B-767 tanker (EADS claims the difference is “just 6%”). That means the USAF should have come up with a fuel consumption calculation somewhere between the Boeing claim of 24% and the EADS claim of 6%. The RFP/SRD says such fuel calculations will be made without the WARPs installed.

      Boeing actually seems to be quite in all of this, it is Thompson that is making waves. EADS is also quite in this.

      With the USAF releasing the IFARA scores to the OEMs (originally intended each disc to go to the OEM who’s data it contained), that tells me the USAF has actually completed all of its evaluations of the bids submitted on 8 and 9 July 2010. If that is true, then it appears the USAF is sitting on their decision in hopes of avoiding a political showdown with the Congress. The USAF may not have actually made the selection, but they have all of the numbers they need to make that selection. But, doing that is a legal GAO protest in itself, as it violates the publicly stated timelines. I see that GAO protest coming, as well as possibly some Congressional hearings. The USAF may will have some ‘splaining to do.

      Remember, it was essentially the IFARA process and evaluation that the GAO found in 2008 to be skewed in favor of NG/EADS and against Boeing. Are we now repaeting history?

      The real question is not what will Boeing, EADS, or the USAF will do, it is what will the Congress do?

      • I’m sure Leehamnet could provide accurate data, but I do believe the USAF sent out the IFARA scores (and probably other data) to allow those competitors to provide the USAF with a best and final offer.

        In short, the USAF doesn’t even have the final data, so how could they already have decided?

        • Ikkeman, We don’t have data–we’re not on the USAF SNAFU list for distribution–which is why we so far have confined our commentaries to things we do know or have access to: our own understanding on WTO issues, the Boeing-sponsored fuel burn/life cycle studies and the EADS operational fuel burn/delivery data.

          Thompson acknowledges he is getting his information from Boeing and in the end may be correct in the assertions he’s making (except on WTO, which as we wrote, is completely off-base as he frames the issue). But insofar as his assertions appear to be based entirely on one side (Boeing) which hardly has an objective interpretation of things, we’re staying away from the other issues.

      • Dear KC135TopBoom,

        I must humbly submit that I have no such proof that Boeing got 2 people to mix these information discs up on purpose. Were I to have such proof however, you would be the last person on earth I would send it to. Hah!

        FBI or somebody like that would be much higher on the list than you, I can guarantee that.

        Do you actually understand the concept of humour and sarcasm?
        While we are on the subject, you might just want to cut down on that grand inquisitor persona as well. (Do you have proof? If so then please post it).

        Dude easy on the seriousness pills!

      • Thanks.

        I figure if you are going to do it, go wild! Too many people think too complicated with these things. But outrageous works for me.

  20. Jacobin777 :
    The A330T will not be built in Alabama. It will be built in Europe and final assembly will be in Alabama. That is a BIG difference.

    Which is not that much different from what happens in XFW or TLS : FAL activity.

      • Jacobin777, with all due repect, isn’t it somewhat disingenuous to say that:

        The A330T will not be built in Alabama. It will be built in Europe and final assembly will be in Alabama. That is a BIG difference.

        Yes, the large fuselage components will be assembled in Europe, but they already incorporate many compnents made in the US.

        On the A330 the cost of the engines and airframe account for about one third and two-fifths of the total costs respectively. The remaining costs are divided between avionics, landing gear, internal outfitting with galleys, lavatories, seats, In-flight Entertainment (IFE) systems etc.

        The CF6 engine has about 75 percent US value content with Snecma, MTU and Volvo Flygmotor accounting for the remaining 25 percent. This means that the US content (by value) of the CF6 engines account for roughly 25 percent of the total value of an A330.

        Triumph Aerostructures (Vought Aircraft Division) is producing 17,500 lbs of structure for the A330 (including the expensive wing leading edge assemblies), or about 8 percent of total fuselage and wing structural weight, and thus roughly 8 percent of total US content (by value) of A330 wing and fuselage (rough first order analysis/approximation).

        So, just airframe and engine will give you a little more than 30 percent of US content (by value) on the A330.

        If you look at the following link, you’ll find a list of the major suppliers to the Airbus A330/340 aircraft program:

        http://www.airframer.com/aircraft_detail.html?model=A330_A340

        As you’ll see there are plenty of additional US based tier-2 suppliers on the A330 thereby increasing the value of US content further.

        Add the FAL in Mobile and all the US content of the added militarized systems, and it’s easy to see why EADS will provide more than sufficient US content to qualify under the Buy American Act of 1933 (41 U.S.C. § 10a–10d).

  21. Dr. Loren posted this entry into his blog yesterday: “Tanker Wars: Why Boeing Is Losing”

    http://www.lexingtoninstitute.org/tanker-wars–why-boeing-is-losing?a=1&c=1171

    A third factor is the calculation of warfighting effectiveness ratings — the metrics which the Air Force inadvertently released to the wrong teams last month. As in the first round of competition, the complex warfighting model used to calculate effectiveness in stressing wartime scenarios continues to favor the larger Airbus plane due to its greater fuel-carrying capacity. But what many outside observers have failed to note is that the success of the EADS entry in that comparison is tied directly to the fact that its planes were allowed to access bases denied to the Boeing planes. The Airbus tanker literally cannot complete the specified missions without access to those bases, and yet Boeing was not allowed access in the modeling of comparative wartime performance.

    What many outside observers have failed to note?????

    So, doctor Loren is saying that in some IFARA simulations the KC-767 was not allowed access to some of the bases the A330-MRTT was allowed access to? Yeah, that’s very believable; in fact, this “interpretaion” is outright bizzarre.

    • Thompson won’t place a direct lie. But the reason for giving access
      to certain bases or not is free for the tainting. ( Thats is the basic
      method employed by Thompson to present the “proper” information )

      Lets guess : A330 runway performance is significantly
      better than the 767 can achieve ?
      Thus certain bases were not denied on a whim by the AF
      but by performance limitations.

      • Uwe, you are wrong. I can see you never read the RFP/SRD. It clearly states the runway requirement for a MTOW of the KC-X will be a 10,000′ long runway. That means the USAF cannot evaluate the A-330MRTT operating off a 8,000′ runway, while making the KC-767NG operate from a 10,000′ runway. Nor is there any proof the A-330 tanker has better runway performance than the B-767 tanker, as both have a much higher drag index compared to their commerical sister airplanes.

        Thompson may have just found Boeing’s next protest.

      • KC135TopBoom :
        Uwe, you are wrong. I can see you never read the RFP/SRD. It clearly states the runway requirement for a MTOW of the KC-X will be a 10,000′ long runway. That means the USAF cannot evaluate the A-330MRTT operating off a 8,000′ runway, while making the KC-767NG operate from a 10,000′ runway. Nor is there any proof the A-330 tanker has better runway performance than the B-767 tanker, as both have a much higher drag index compared to their commerical sister airplanes.
        Thompson may have just found Boeing’s next protest.

        But the a330 can carry 200klbs from a shorter strip than the 767 can. They both require <10000' at MTOW, but as you so regularly indicate, the a330 MTOW is quite a bit higher than the 767 number. Thus, when the mission requires 200klbs of fuel (MTOW for 767, "only" ~90% MTOW for a330), the a330 can use a shorter runway than the b767.

    • Wow! That’s a bitter and twisted blog entry. I would feel vindicated if I were the Airforce and had selected the EADS plane. None of his four factors of where things went wrong have any relevance to the quality of the proposed products.

    • First off, for a person with a doctorate, one would think he would have anything he writes proofread for errors or typos (“Many observers thought that when Northrop Grumman dropped out of the tanker competition and EADS had to go it along, the European company would be hobbled in competing against Boeing.”) Or mayboe there is a new meaning for “going it along”?! Not having lived in the US for some years now, perhaps I am not up on the newspeak (or is it nowspeak?).

      So my question for Dr. Thompson, if I were to be allowed to pose one, would be, “If the USAF is so biased towards the EADS/Airbus entry, why would they not put out an RSP that would declare that preference for a larger aircraft?” I mean a price shootout, with no bonus for exceeding requirements, was the dream scenario every and any supporter of Boeing. What would be the reason for putting out such an RSP? KC135TopBoom and Joanne(‘s husband’s)assertions aside, the USAF should know best what it needs and, let’s put it out there, wants. An RSP that outright lists such requirements (that would show a leaning for a larger aircraft) might be enough to get all the politico’s diapers in an uproar, but it would have relatively little impact on the competition itself, wouldn’t it? Let’s face it, how much more can you put a government purchase competition under the microscope? Short of siccing paparazzis on all of the participants and the relevant USAF/Pentagon officials! Because in the end of such a scenario, once that announcement for the larger aircraft is made, it is going to get all of the politicians cooking at a full boil.
      Therein lies the rub to Dr. Thompsons theory, better to get congress warmed up to the idea that maybe the Boeing offering is not really the “right sized” one after all. Perhpas the Airbus aircraft has the right size for the aircraft of the future.

      Back in the late forties, the USA was not all that concerned about China. They were communists and there were alot of them but they didn’t have nukes yet while the Soviets did. The USSR was alot closer and there were no refueling missions across the pcific foreseen at that time. Remember, Japan was now out of the picture. The rules have changed but it seem to me, that some people making comments here, are looking to the past and not the future.

      Whatever else you might read into what I have written, please note that I do not buy this theory that the USAF has a bias for Airbus. It is great for the conspiracy theorists, but it does not make sense in the face of facts.

      Sorry if I rambled, hopefully some of you found what I wrote interesting and more importantly for me, thought provoking.

      • Just a correction, it is an RFP (request for proposals), not an RSP. I am not being critical as I have made mistakes to, so we all know what you meant.

        Also, back in the late 1940s, there was air refueling from KB-29s. It was used to refuel a few of the B-29s that tested nukes in the far west Pacific.

        Also, had this RFP specified a larger aircraft, don’t you think Boeing would have proposed their KC-777F? It was on the Boeing drawing board when the DRFP was out, and it carried some outsized cargo and some 400,000 lbs of fuel. All that in about the same parking footprint as the A-330MRTT.

        But, again the USAF said they favored “a smaller aircraft”, so again Boeing dropped the KC-777F proposal for their updated KC-767AT, which they call the KC-767NG.

        I agree that the USAF does not have any official bias for EADS, but in recent years, a lot of retired General Officers have gone to work for them.

        Must be just a coincidence.

        • Oops. Sorry. RFP, not RSP (have been working with risk sharing partners lately, have gotten all my abbreviations mixed up)!

        • “But, again the USAF said they favored “a smaller aircraft”, so again Boeing dropped the KC-777F proposal for their updated KC-767AT, which they call the KC-767NG.”

          Just curious here. Did the USAF actually include a line or requirement in any RFP specifically requesting a smaller tanker? Or is this just some whining and excuse making on Boeing’s part? If you have a quote (or source for a quote) from any Air Force official stating such a preference, I would be certainly be glad to see it.

          Did Boeing actually put that in their protest? I can just picture it, “The Air Force told us they wanted a smaller tanker, so we ignored what was in the RFP”.

          Boeing had the opportunity to bid with the 777 but chose not to do so. I hope they based this on the RFP and not on what someone supposedly told them.

          I reiterate, perhaps the “right sized” tanker of the future, not the past, is the A330, which fits between the 767 and the 777.

  22. ikkeman :
    and any 767 plane will be build in japan/Italy and assembled in Washington (if the Washingtonians are lucky)
    So you’re saying the USAF should buy the 767 to help poor little Boeing float their boat? Or is it just that you’re over-invested in Boeing with your pension plan?
    The fact that the B767 is in the race does nothing to prove or disprove it’s capabilities. At best it shows Boeing’s believe in it’s own products, at worst it shows Boeing’s contempt for it’s customer.
    Bigger doesn’t mean better. But that doesn’t mean smaller is better either.
    the A330 plane was proved the better plane twice now. Boeing (and the USAF) frustrated this program with illegality and legality, but the a330 had highest scores for both attempts so far.
    the a330 can be cheaper than the 767 when Boeing tries to gain excessive profit. It shouldn’t be hard to underbid using a plane listed as 50million (25%) cheaper, but somehow they fail…
    There was no bidding on the A400m, it was a sole-source award. It was stupid and wrong. Are you proposing that’s the way to go? looking at the A400m, is that the future you wish upon the US? are you certain what you say is as patriotic as you intend it to be?

    1)I nor my family own any shares of Boeing..so one of your hypothesis/comments is a bust.
    2)If Boeing felt it was an inferior product, they would have gone with the B777T. As I mentioned previously, in the original RFP-size was NOT a factor. The Airforce moved the goal posts later to include size.
    3)Japan in this discussion is actually irrelevant as they aren’t a “competing” manufacturer. If they were and there was a conflict of interest then I would certainly rule out the B767T.
    4)Where is it stated that the A330T once twice? As far as I remember, the A330T won the RFP just once.
    5)Where is your proof that the A330T is going to be cheaper? Whether a plain is $50 million cheaper or not is irrelevant. You haven’t provided proof that the total cost of the A330T is going to be cheaper than the B767T.
    6)”Highest scores” is relative when the goal posts change during competition. In fact, that is why Boeing contested and won.

    Regards…

    • 2) I have the feeling that Boeing proposes whatever platform maximizes their profit potential. As they should, as is their mission from their shareholders.
      further I think Boeing decided not to put forward the 777 because the AF wants that for KC-10 replacement (good plan), and because it’s maturity as a tanker is such that nobody should believe they can turn it into an tanker in the period proposed in this competition.
      These are the main reasons behind Boeing’s decision to put forward the 767, not 777 as I see them.
      and about moving goalposts. explain to me the logic behind not assigning value to exceed a key performance parameter. There may be costs associated with that exceeding, but that doesn’t mean the extra capability is worthless.
      When a tanker can deliver more fuel, that’s beneficial. When a tanker is heavier, that’s costly. Both should be evaluated and costs should be compared to benefits.

      3) Japan is relevant in that it is not the US – when the complaint is put forward that the EADS plane will mean all the money goes abroad, then Japan should be as bad a destination as Yurp. If your complaint is about federal many financing an direct Boeing competitor… isn’t that the whole point of capitalism? “Luctor et emergo”, the best is shaped through competitive means. Then any EADS win should serve to sharpen and improve Boeing for the next battle.

      4) The airbus military proposed for the lease deal scored higher points in that competition as well (20 of 26 iirc – http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0328-09.htm). That was one of the reasons the senate started to ask questions. NG/EADS was awarded the 2nd round which was canceled based on procedural points, not technical ones.

      5) the a330 based proposal was cheaper in the last two competitions. Yes, by a very small margin last time around, and Boeing contends that the AF unfairly increased it’s price based on a risk assessment, but how can Boeing not be much cheaper when they need no new infrastructure, have 2 customers flying their product and the 767 list price is 25% lower than the 330?
      As Rand stated in their AoA, the decision should not be based on LCC’s (alone). How accurate do you think the prediction of fuel cost is for the next 40 years. Try to run the prediction backwards for 40 years, does it in any way resemble reality in 1970?

      6) Yes, it is rather a bother when the opposite team manages to replace the goalposts you so carefully misplaced the night before the big game. Assigning value to providing extra capability in a key performance parameter is logical. It’s wrong what the USAF did in a legal sense, but not in a non-Boeing world.

  23. Addendum:

    1)I meant that Boeing contested that the RFP was flawed and won that – obviously they didn’t win the RFP.
    2)I meant “whether a plane” and not “whether a plain”…:-D

  24. KC135TopBoom :
    Uwe, you are wrong. ……….

    Your reaction and slightly skewed answer seems to indicate that I’m not that far off. ( Is Loren your brother in the Real World ;-?)
    With a similar fuel load the A330 has significantly shorter runway requirement. I seem to remember reading that this is even valid for fully laden.

  25. Like I read in another article, Boeing probably sent out Loren to make it out like they’re losing in other to gain a psychological advantage and have a ground for more whining, if they ACTUALLY DO end up losing.

  26. OV-099 :
    Jacobin777, with all due repect, isn’t it somewhat disingenuous to say that:

    The A330T will not be built in Alabama. It will be built in Europe and final assembly will be in Alabama. That is a BIG difference.

    Yes, the large fuselage components will be assembled in Europe, but they already incorporate many compnents made in the US.
    On the A330 the cost of the engines and airframe account for about one third and two-fifths of the total costs respectively. The remaining costs are divided between avionics, landing gear, internal outfitting with galleys, lavatories, seats, In-flight Entertainment (IFE) systems etc.
    The CF6 engine has about 75 percent US value content with Snecma, MTU and Volvo Flygmotor accounting for the remaining 25 percent. This means that the US content (by value) of the CF6 engines account for roughly 25 percent of the total value of an A330.
    Triumph Aerostructures (Vought Aircraft Division) is producing 17,500 lbs of structure for the A330 (including the expensive wing leading edge assemblies), or about 8 percent of total fuselage and wing structural weight, and thus roughly 8 percent of total US content (by value) of A330 wing and fuselage (rough first order analysis/approximation).
    So, just airframe and engine will give you a little more than 30 percent of US content (by value) on the A330.
    If you look at the following link, you’ll find a list of the major suppliers to the Airbus A330/340 aircraft program:
    http://www.airframer.com/aircraft_detail.html?model=A330_A340
    As you’ll see there are plenty of additional US based tier-2 suppliers on the A330 thereby increasing the value of US content further.
    Add the FAL in Mobile and all the US content of the added militarized systems, and it’s easy to see why EADS will provide more than sufficient US content to qualify under the Buy American Act of 1933 (41 U.S.C. § 10a–10d).

    Excellent work on the breakdown-I appreciate it.

    I don’t think you’ll get an argument out of me on that end. Its a well known fact many U.S. companies will benefit regardless of which manufacturer wins the RFP.

    There is however a reason why EADS really wants to get a foothold in this particular market however.

    While Boeing does have some more B767 deliveries (particularly the B767F), if Boeing doesn’t win the RFP it will have to close down the line….I do have a problem with that. That being said, the space can be used for other items so it wouldn’t be a “total loss”.

    IMHO-both planes will satisfy the Air Force needs (it wasn’t as if the A330T “blew away” the B767T in scoring-and some of that scoring was suspect-ie.even the GAO agreed)…while the A330T might be the “better plane”, unless otherwise convincingly shown, I don’t see why the B767T can’t be used. Its already in service (albeit based on different B767 platform).

  27. On the same note:

    http://www.dodbuzz.com/2010/12/08/eads-commits-to-kc-x-plant/

    And Boeing launched what looks like a clever pysops campaign to out-psych EADS, using defense analyst and consultant Loren Thompson to spread the word that — shock, horror – the maker of the 787 Dreamliner thinks it may well lose the tanker competition after having seen some of the bidding data that the Air Force shared with the two companies.

    Thompson called the closest thing EADS has to a hometown reporter, George Talbot of the Mobile Press-Register, to tell him the news. Why George, aside from the fact that he’s a canny fellow with a deft touch in covering Alabama politics? Some observers believe that Boeing wanted to lay the Capitol Hill groundwork for a protest should the company not win the competition outright. (Some who watch the tanker competition closely still believe a dual buy is possible, if not likely. They point to, among other recent decisions, the Navy plan to buy both Littoral Combat Ships.)

    • EADS/Airbus always wanted a plant in the US in recent years.
      The tanker sale would have been reason enough. Targeted
      were building/assembling A330-F freighters and the odd tanker.

      With the high rate of recent A330 sales and due to Dreamliner delays
      the expectation to keep on selling A330 frames in the foreseeable future
      a US based FAL would make sense independent of the tanker deal.

      The question is: can EADS/Airbus ramp up A330-* production fast enough
      to further siphon off Dreamliner-size aircraft sales?

      • That is a good question. We know that if EADS wins this time, the first several tankers will be totally built in the EU, perhaps as many as 48-60. That is the first 4-5 years of full rate production. It will take EADS at least that long to design, EIS, and build their Alabama plant, hire the 1200 people to work their and train them.

        So much for US jobs.

  28. Aero Ninja :
    “Again, as I mentioned previously, where was the bidding for the A400M and especially for the A400M engines?”
    There was none and everybody here knows it. There was also no bidding for the original tanker lease boondoggle and the original tanker purchase cockup.
    Sure, Airbus did try to stir things up to get in on it but really did not expect to get anywhere. Had the original purchase deal not had the problems with improprieties on the part of at least 2 people, it would have been all over and the fat lady would have sung her heart out on behalf of Boeing. Airbus and the EU would not have had much to say and it would have been story over. It might have even been that Australia and the other MRTT customers would have followed Italy’s and Japan’s footsteps. Coincidentally, these are 2 countries with large work packages on the 767. In other words, 2 countries where large portions of this “all American” plane are being built (but not assembled). Amazing, ain’t it?!
    Since there were those little ethical issues and as a result, it was decided to make the tanker purchase a competition.
    Would you agree, that it looks pretty crooked, odd, biased, distorted, perverted (pick a word, any word) to start a competition, run it once, start to run it again, cancel it and award a sole source contract to the homeboy?
    Long story short. If the US wants to award a sole source contract to the home player without a competition, by all means do so. But it is not something the US often does and it does not mean the EU, or any member country, is bound to do the same.
    It will be interesting to see if there will be any further competitions comign from the US government. Perhaps next time the USAF wants to buy something, they will merely order from Lockheed-Martin or Northrop-Grumman.

    No it doesn’t look “odd”. Again, I’m going to keep harping on the A400M competition-especially the engines-why was there no open competitive bids?

    Whether the process of the tanker RFP has been crooked, corrupted, twisted, etc. is irrelevant. This RFP could end today if need be.

    • A400M(+engine)
      There was no competition because there was a political will to have this
      done inside the EU.
      With that as background kicking of a competition would have been completely
      dishonorable, created a lot of bad blood ( and with a US contender would
      have created the basis for a wild US trade skirmish ).
      As the Wikileaks docs show the US is not shy to employ any kind of pressure
      to force certain trade outcomes ( Wonder what type whips, implements of torture
      and petit carrots were trotted out to the indian government to cancel their tanker deal and order C-17s ).
      The same applies to the tanker competition. If the political will says buy local, do so BUT don’t start a a fake competition.

      • This isn’t a “false competition” this is a wrong competition. It never should happen.

        Regardless, as I said, this RFP could be over today…

    • U.S. export restrictions on military technology, as outlined in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR,) was in fact one of the reasons that there were no A400M engine competiton.

      It’s a well known fact that ITARs are used by the U.S. as a vehicle to give American firms a leg up on the competition. Just look at the recent wikileaks regarding the State Department’s outright sabotage of the Gripen NG bid in Norway behind the scenes:

      “Given this potential impact of AESA releasability on the Norway competition, and possibly the Denmark competition,” says a US cable dated 8 July, “we suggest postponing the decision on AESA releasability for the Gripen until after Norway’s decision in December.”

      http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2010/12/wikileaks-shows-us-played-aesa.html

      This hanky panky on the part of the State Department demonstrates that if an EU defence product has a US component in it, the State Department may not approve of a particular sale, if an EU company is going head to head with a US company in that same market.

      A study last year, partly funded by the US Department of Defense, found that some EU contries were looking for systems that weren’t covered by ITAR. Also, the EU is quite concerned about operational autonomy being limited by not having access to the “black box” technology, and not being able to change it.

      • If what you say is true, then why bother having the A330T compete?

        Why isn’t this “American firm” being given a “firm leg” up on the competition? If anything, its seems EADS is.

      • Again, ITAR is legislation unique to the US that governs the issue of export licences of military equipment (including dual-use technology) from the US, imposing considerable restrictions on what can be exported, and to whom, and creating horrendous red-tape and delays, even when export is permitted. There are no equivalent European legislation.

        The A330MRTT/KC-45 (non-US content) would be imported into the US. There are no EU export restrictions for military equipment going to the US, and US exports of such to third parties.

        Why isn’t this “American firm” being given a “firm leg” up on the competition? If anything, its seems EADS is.

        I’m sorry, what are you trying to say?

    • No A400M competition because they (the various customer governments) did not want to and did not need to.

      You may certainly harp on it as much as you will, but that will change nothing. Asking the same question over and over again will also not change the answer. Neither the US nor the EU is forced to hold a competition when purchasing items for their military organisations.

      But the US government did choose to have a competition for KC-X. Sorry but no matter how much Aurora and you want this sole sourced, Pandora’s box has been opened and will not be easily closed.

      Not even sole sourcing it to Northrop-Grumman would easily resolve the situation now.

  29. KC135TopBoom :
    That is the first 4-5 years of full rate production. It will take EADS at least that long to design, …….
    So much for US jobs.

    The Tianjin plant took about a year from ground breaking to “workable”.
    Output has continuously ramped / is ramping up to 56 in 2012.

    No idea how americans take to offered work but the current unemployment rate
    should garner some interest.

  30. OV-099 :
    Again, ITAR is legislation unique to the US that governs the issue of export licences of military equipment (including dual-use technology) from the US, imposing considerable restrictions on what can be exported, and to whom, and creating horrendous red-tape and delays, even when export is permitted. There are no equivalent European legislation.
    The A330MRTT/KC-45 (non-US content) would be imported into the US. There are no EU export restrictions for military equipment going to the US, and US exports of such to third parties.

    Why isn’t this “American firm” being given a “firm leg” up on the competition? If anything, its seems EADS is.

    I’m sorry, what are you trying to say?

    Thanks for the clarification….

    While there was problems with the export licenses, there are always “work arounds” as well as new engines, etc.

    Its not as if a lot of the technology isn’t being exported.

    I think we’re going to be disagreeing on this to the end.

    Regards..

  31. Jacobin777 :

    OV-099 :Again, ITAR is legislation unique to the US that governs the issue of export licences of military equipment (including dual-use technology) from the US, imposing considerable restrictions on what can be exported, and to whom, and creating horrendous red-tape and delays, even when export is permitted. There are no equivalent European legislation.The A330MRTT/KC-45 (non-US content) would be imported into the US. There are no EU export restrictions for military equipment going to the US, and US exports of such to third parties.-

    Why isn’t this “American firm” being given a “firm leg” up on the competition? If anything, its seems EADS is.

    I’m sorry, what are you trying to say?

    Thanks for the clarification….
    While there was problems with the export licenses, there are always “work arounds” as well as new engines, etc.
    Its not as if a lot of the technology isn’t being exported.
    I think we’re going to be disagreeing on this to the end.
    Regards..

    There is a huge difference between building a plant in China and the US. Just the EIS alone in the US (and EU) takes longer than building the plant in China.

  32. Justin L :
    My Kit consisted of; an Italian designed pistol that as “assembled” in the USA, an American designed service rifle, (which was made by a Belgium company), then I would mount a Swedish designed, Canadian built light armored vehicle. Out to the field I went.
    Oh, I did have body armor (manufactured in the good old USA) that was suppose to stop 7.62X39 rifle round, but was recalled because it couldn’t stop a 9 mm pistol round over 40% of the time.
    I then spent $1000 dollars of my own to get body armor (made in Israel) that would actually provide some level of protection, because the other American made body armor wasn’t “approved” by the military.
    Yes, without a doubt, we should be able to design and manufacture equipment for our military here; but from my perspective, when someone is shooting at you, the country of origin of the equipment really doesn’t seem to matter, just as long as it works and works well.
    It does suck that Boeing may have blew it, and cost us jobs in the area, but I don’t expect our active duty soldiers, sailors and Marines to be stuck with equipment that can’t meet or exceed mission requirements.

    BOTH aircraft not only meet, but exceed specifications set forth by the RfP. Scott, stop me when I’m wrong here. ;)

    • Yes, and I think You’ll find the body armor Justin received from the army met or exceeded spec as well.
      When all is said and done, one of the tankers had an higher IFARA score, and it looks like it still has. that directly means it is a better tanker. The only issue left is whether the US can (wants to) afford the best, or whether they will settle for whatever is available domestically…

    • So what would you be suggesting Joanne? That the US Army deliberately bought body armour that doesn’t work?

      I can see how that one would go over with the general public, not to mention the US Army person in the field.

  33. ikkeman :

    KC135TopBoom :
    Uwe, you are wrong. I can see you never read the RFP/SRD. It clearly states the runway requirement for a MTOW of the KC-X will be a 10,000′ long runway. That means the USAF cannot evaluate the A-330MRTT operating off a 8,000′ runway, while making the KC-767NG operate from a 10,000′ runway. Nor is there any proof the A-330 tanker has better runway performance than the B-767 tanker, as both have a much higher drag index compared to their commerical sister airplanes.
    Thompson may have just found Boeing’s next protest.

    But the a330 can carry 200klbs from a shorter strip than the 767 can. They both require <10000′ at MTOW, but as you so regularly indicate, the a330 MTOW is quite a bit higher than the 767 number. Thus, when the mission requires 200klbs of fuel (MTOW for 767, “only” ~90% MTOW for a330), the a330 can use a shorter runway than the b767.

    ikkeman :

    KC135TopBoom :
    Uwe, you are wrong. I can see you never read the RFP/SRD. It clearly states the runway requirement for a MTOW of the KC-X will be a 10,000′ long runway. That means the USAF cannot evaluate the A-330MRTT operating off a 8,000′ runway, while making the KC-767NG operate from a 10,000′ runway. Nor is there any proof the A-330 tanker has better runway performance than the B-767 tanker, as both have a much higher drag index compared to their commerical sister airplanes.
    Thompson may have just found Boeing’s next protest.

    But the a330 can carry 200klbs from a shorter strip than the 767 can. They both require <10000′ at MTOW, but as you so regularly indicate, the a330 MTOW is quite a bit higher than the 767 number. Thus, when the mission requires 200klbs of fuel (MTOW for 767, “only” ~90% MTOW for a330), the a330 can use a shorter runway than the b767.

    One finds it pretty interesting that the U.S can spend several millions on building a cruise missile, but not do the same when it comes to laying tarmac if needed.

    The whole argument is lame.

    • The requirement in the RFP is for the offered tanker to use no more than a 10,000′ runway (dry, no wind, no slope, at sea level) at MTOW. There is no provisions in the RFP, or requirement to use less than that runway requirement at less than MTOW. The USAF knows the offered tanker will use less runway at a lower TO weight.

      • Regardless, as the U.S Army, U.K’s and Australian army well know, Laying extra tarmac if exceptional circumstances requirement, isn’t hard. The problem is, when this becomes treated as critical to platform performance in certain scenarios. Tarmac isn’t unflexible, it is readily laid out. Even Burma can do it.

  34. Dave :
    Regardless, as the U.S Army, U.K’s and Australian army well know, Laying extra tarmac if exceptional circumstances requirement, isn’t hard. The problem is, when this becomes treated as critical to platform performance in certain scenarios. Tarmac isn’t unflexible, it is readily laid out. Even Burma can do it.

    Uhhh little problem – need permission of country where property is, usually need some heavy equipment, etc. Then it becomes a fixed site which can be targeted by crjuise missiles, etc from the ‘ other’ side. Especially while you are doing the ‘ rebuild’ or new build.

    While it is not a trivial process even in the U.S ( even forgetting the political and permitting and bcrat games ) doing the same thing ‘ overseas” is NOT trivial. Of course in the big war, (ww2 ) ;P the locals were happy to pound rocks, etc to handle the relatively light weight fighters or use landing mats, etc. such is not to practical for tankers.

    • Again,, and we are going O.T although my fault there are several issues. This always assumed that Tarmac will be an Issue, in every eventuality. Even when it was an issue in Linebacker, 135’s decreased their load.

      Many of the airbases the U.S have operated from, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the one in the Ex Soviet Satellite state have been readily upgraded as a result of input of US Dollars. Now, there are historically, some difficulties in countries which want to keep your presence to a minimum like Thailand. but that is a Problem the USAF as a whole struggles to deal with, as opposed to the USN, The USAF will always have problems with that- hence the importance of not limiting an asset that is supposed to also support the Global Strike Capabilities of the USN. Which you will be limiting by inducing an Achilles Heel on the requirement. I.E “We’re sorry if Japan refuses you basing and your target is China, the Airforce will be flying out of Guam, Navy be damned.

      I’m not talking about laying out PSP, im’ talking about army engineers able to lay hard tarmac – Now, within weeks. Some of us do have degrees in Civil Construction ya know. War is War.

  35. Just for the record, to prepare a base strip for the footprint of a C-17, takes two weeks. That’s for dirt stage, all that the C-17 needs, ready for hard surface. Thats a whole strip, including parking and turn around space, in Austere conditions, in the Middle of the Outback, with NO prior prep and No prior establishment services. Laying extra tarmac space isn’t an issue, the ridiculous spot factor arguments made me want to tear what little hair is left on my head – out.

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