As the World Churns

Only a few days ago, President Obama’s Office of the Management and Budget suggested delaying the tanker competition for five years. Now the Wall Street Journal reports that another House Member wants to split the tanker acquisition. You can see the report here, and in this case it’s free. Meantime, the conspriracy theorists actually have a pretty good one. A commenter on the DODBuzz blog thinks the delay is designed to give Boeing the opportunity to develop the 777 into a tanker. See the March 11, 9:28am posting. As conspiracy theories go, we like this one. No clue if there’s any validity to it, but the timing does work.

Update, March 12: George Talbot has this long item that the White House denies it wants to delay the tanker program.

The Hill has this piece that House Member John Murtha is preparing legislation for a split buy, with the winner getting a larger piece of the pie, and a production rate of 24 a year rather than the 12-18 originally proposed.

Update, March 13: George Talbot of The Mobile Press-Register has this piece about Boeing, Northrop and their respective supporters banding together to kill any Obama Administration proposal to delay the tanker procurement for five years, as suggested by OMB. The White House denies it has any plans to do so, but the stakeholders aren’t convinced.

Reuters reports more about John Murtha’s plan to kick-start the procurement in this item.

8 Comments on “As the World Churns

  1. HI Scott, it all seems funny to flagrantly claim that “bigger is better” and then mention the 777 as a canditate for the KC-X competition. But many (Boeing & its supporters etc.) have already claimed that the A330 is too large for the job. Now in the next breath, they earnestly claim that the even larger 777 could do the job. Perhaps the Air Force used the wrong term with “Bigger is better”. Maybe they should have said (sorry if I am borrowing from Boeing), “The A330 is right-sized for the job”.

  2. This farce has to stop.

    All a 777 tanker would provide is a large number of high gross weight landings or dumped fuel due to lack of need to offload. An aircraft that size is clearly in the strategic catagory re: KC-10. It would also nullify Boeing’s own arguements over runway/ramp strength and hangarage.

    If bigger is better then why not a KC-747. Or KC-380 then?

    Also clear is the fact that a five year delay would kill the 767 airframe, making it unavailable.

    Don’t begin to kid yourself about a 787 based tanker.

    Then you have the political expediancy of a split buy, which nobody but politicians want. I’m struggling to recall a major system that only politicains wanted that ever provided capabilities or economies of it’s touted potential.

    I’m ready for someone to advocate dusting off the bluepritns for the KC-135, and advocate building more of those, with updated systems and engines.

    That may sound like a stupid idea, but it’s no less stupid than either a delay or a split buy.

    Equally stupid is awarding defense work to a foreign/American consortioum during a severe economic upheaval.

    A-400M should be a big red flag for the USAF, but they appear colorblind, and they apparantly have no idea what they need. Much less the country.

  3. onemancrew,
    I agree with most of the things you have said but would like to ask what does the A400M red flag represent when it come to the A330 based tanker?

  4. onemancrew, perhaps what needs “dusted off” are the refurbishment plans for the KC-135Es? JT8D engines, new struts, a little paint….

  5. If most of these KC135’s have less than 2000 hours on the clock, maybe put them in the body shop, cut out the rust, repaint and fit them with the PW GTF. That would cut down on the operating costs

  6. Its politics versus the Pentagon….which will prevail and which is the best solution? It sure has become convoluted. Too big, too small, right size, no need, postpone, wait for 787, et al….each with its own logic but with flaws too.

    Remember when Boeing was ready to enter into a lease arrangement for around $23 B…now the price has nearly tripled and it is still spinning around.

    Doing business with the Government is not easy. The procurement process is flawed.

    Perhaps this saga will come to some satisfactory solution…one of these days, months, years…

  7. Remember, Jerry, the lease deal was for 100 planes with no ownership by the USAF and a purchase option at the end of 20 years. The more recent, $35bn KC-X deal was for 179 airplanes and the USAF would own them.

  8. Maybe there is a really good side to a split buy, based on earlier reports 80, 000+ jobs would be generated in the US, a new aircraft facility would be created and unlike the millions spend in the banking industry real jobs and products would result and a lot of people would go to work across these United States and some foreign countries.

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