The head of the Boeing Tanker Program call this the ‘Year of the Tanker,” according to a news release from the company.
In the news release, Dave Bowman, VP and GM of the program, vows to win the KC-X competition that is to be resumed this year. It’s unclear yet whether the Pentagon will simply pick up where it left off last September when suspending the competition or whether an entirely new process will be started.
Boeing claims 44,000 jobs will be supported by its KC-767 tanker. Northrop claims 48,000 jobs for its KC-30. Boeing claims its tanker is 85% American content by value; Northrop claims its tanker is 60% US content (and that the KC-767 is 69% US content). Boeing’s supporters, notably Sen. Murray, challenge Northrop’s jobs claims but have nothing concrete to back up the challenge. (We’re highly skeptical of both claims, for reasons we’ve written about many times.)
But what is truly “American built?” The Wall Street Journal today (Jan. 26) has a very interesting article asking this question of the automotive industry. The parallels to aerospace are apt.
Boeing’s internal press release on the tanker follows.
Bowman tells Wichita team, 2009 is ‘Year of the Tanker’
Dave Bowman¸ vice president and general manager of Boeing’s Tanker Program¸ addresses workers at the Wichita¸ Kansas site this week during a two-day visit.
In the last few months, Tanker Program employees in Wichita have made huge contributions of time and effort, especially in the International Tanker Program modifying KC-767 jets into aerial refueling tankers for Boeing’s Italy and Japan customers.
“Your continued hard work to deliver quality aircraft and systems to our customers is critical to our long-term success,” said Dave Bowman, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s Tanker Program. “I appreciate it, our leadership appreciates it and our customers appreciate it. I want to say thank you and congratulations.”
Addressing three separate all-employee meetings across the Wichita site, including one that drew more than 150 workers in the facility that modifies KC-767s for the Italian Air Force and Japan’s Air Self-Defence Force, Bowman said workers have helped put the International Tanker Program closer to the finish line for delivering the advanced aerial refuelers.
“We are going to cross that finish line. I know we have the right team and the right workers in place,” Bowman told employees. “I have committed 2009 to being the ’Year of the Tanker.’”
Bowman’s goals include delivering Japan’s next two KC-767Js — Japan’s third aerial refueling tanker is on schedule for delivery in March. Japan received its first two KC-767s tankers in February and March 2008.
Another goal is getting all four KC-767s refueling tankers for the Italian Air Force completed before the end of 2009.
And Bowman said his third tanker goal is for Boeing to end up on top in a reopened KC-X competition to build the U.S. warfighters their next generation of aerial refueling tankers.
During his visit to Wichita, Bowman met with select employees in several roundtables and received a day-long detailed team briefing on the progress of the Japan and Italy tanker programs.
Boeing has two KC-767s in flight test for the Italian Air Force in addition to modification work being done on two additional tankers for the ItAF. The basic KC-767A for Italy is a “convertible combi” which means it can carry all passengers, all cargo, or a combination of passengers and cargo.
In any configuration, the KC-767 maintains its primary aerial refueling capability. The new Italian tanker has an open architecture cockpit and advanced aerial refueling boom with a remote aerial refueling operator (RARO) station, as well as wing pod and centerline hose and drogue systems, and a refueling receptacle.
The Japan Aircraft also has an open architecture cockpit and is configured with the advanced Boeing air refueling boom and an advanced Remote Aerial Refueling Operator (RARO) II system. The JDA selected the convertible freighter configuration, allowing it to carry cargo or passengers, while maintaining its primary role as an aerial tanker. With a convertible freighter interior, the Japan tanker can be rapidly converted from all-passenger to all-cargo configurations.