KC-X procurement faces deferral

The controversial KC-X aerial tanker procurement will likely be deferred, predicts Goldman Sachs. So will several other Boeing programs, according to Goldman: the Airborne Laser, the Ground-Based MidCourse Missile Defense System and the Boeing/SAI Future Combat Systems.

Goldman made the predictions during an investor’s conference call today (Jan. 12). The company believes the incoming Obama administration will defer these and other defense programs as it adjusts priorities within the Defense Department and as part of its overall economic recovery plan.

Goldman does not predict that overall defense spending will fall; on the contrary, the firm believes that defense spending will be maintained or increased.

President-elect Obama said during the presidential campaign that the Armed Services need to be modernized and replenished after years of spending on the Iraq War, and that troops need to be redeployed to Afghanistan to continue the fight against terrorists and to get Osama Bin Laden.

The Orlando Sentinel quotes an analyst with Global Security as saying the KC-X isn’t needed at all.

7 Comments on “KC-X procurement faces deferral

  1. If the tanker competition is deferred, will DOD then propose to re-engine the KC-130Es with JT8Ds–similar to JSTARS?

  2. Typo alert: meant “KC-135Es” in the previous comment. If memory serves, many of the ANG/USAFR birds are parked and awaiting Congressional approval to fly to the bone yard.

  3. We never understood why the AF reengined with JT8Ds–it’s an old engine, noisy and not very good on emissions–as well as another engine type to the fleet. We wonder why they didn’t use CFM 56s–more modern and largely common to KC135R/T?

  4. My understanding is that the existing pylons could be used, obviating costly modifications. Also, the JT8D delivers, if the comments I read are correct, 20% fuel savings over the JT3D. It could be a cheap and expedient fix, but one wonders why they didn’t go for the more modern engine.

  5. The “R” model engine cowlings are too large. They would obstruct the radar energy from the antenna.

  6. This delay makes sense only so long as it results in AF’s getting an aircraft with the latest technolgy, such as BWB, composite construction, and the GenX-type engines or better. I never understood why the AF was willing to buy hundreds of 767s or 330s for service lives measured in decades when neither had any of this new tech, and in particular were not nearly as fuel efficient as planes that eill be available in ten years or so. I seem to remember a Pentagon official (I think John Young) telling Congress that there was still plenty of life in the 135s, so maybe they could soldier on with or without JT8Ds until the air framers are ready to unite all the new tech in one plane. Notabley, Aviation Week had a piece just yesterday on the Gov’t’s interest in Boeing’s BWB work.

  7. I realize I’m a month late here Christopher, but the JSTARS aircraft are being re-powered with JT8Ds, not the refuelers. Aurora and R’s comments are spot-on. My contact at Pratt told me those are the exact reasons why the JT8D was selected. The CFM56 made more sense to me, but I wasn’t aware of the RF interference issues.

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