USAF RFP supports smaller airplane: Boeing

Bloomberg quotes the CEO of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems as saying the USAF Draft RFP for the KC-X competition favors the smaller 767.

Bloomberg writes:

Boeing Says Tanker Request Favors a 767-Based Plane (Update1)
2009-12-03 16:13:59.557 GMT

By Gopal Ratnam
Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) — Boeing Co. defense chief Dennis Muilenburg said the U.S. Air Force’s requirements for a new aerial refueling tanker favor a 767-based airplane.

“It’s important for us to allow the customer to finalize the requirement, but if you look at the current request for proposals it would push us toward a 767-based plane,” Muilenburg said today at a conference sponsored by Credit Suisse Group AG in New York.
Northrop was quick to point out that this supports its assertions that the DRFP is tilted to Boeing’s airplane.

Muilenberg’s remarks weren’t webcast live by Credit Suisse today (Dec. 3) but are promised to be available Thursday (Dec. 4). We will check it out for ourselves when we can.

Meantime, Bloomberg also reports that the Air Force is prepared to proceed without Northrop.

3 Comments on “USAF RFP supports smaller airplane: Boeing

  1. As a USAF tanker operator for my 20+ career, I feel I can make some real-world based comments on this subject. As the USAF/DOD has shed foreign bases over the last 20 years, contingency operations rely on foreign nations to allow us to use their airfields for basing our aircraft. Given the legs heavy aircraft have, they are often based more than an hour (often further in SW Asia). Given all the aircraft the Commanders want to bring to the fight, space at these “on-loan” bases is at a premium. Therefore, you want to make the most of your real estate. Aside from what the RFP may be requesting or favoring, the ideal KC-135 replacement would be an aircraft that is able to: carry more fuel, burn less fuel per-hour, carry more pallets, carry more pax, AND have a smaller footprint – than the KC-135. Neither of these aircraft fit that bill – because of their footprint. Only an expensive, custom designed and special purpose aircraft could give you more with a smaller footprint. Modern airliner/cargo aircraft are optimized for carrying lighter than jet fuel cargo/pax. Therefore, the USAF needs to pick the aircraft that gives them the most for its footprint. Make no mistake; this is a refueler first and foremost. Only during peace-time is a tanker used for carrying pax or cargo, as well as the deployment/redeployment of that airframe to/from theater in war-time. The DoD has to look to its war-time mission first – peace-time use is a bonus. While the KC-10 has more capability in the way of; fuel, pallets, and pax carrying capability, it still has fewer booms than the KC-135 per a million square feet of parking. If you think these aircraft don’t need parking, you don’t know the air refueling business. The good news is that both are bidding wide-body aircraft (more pallets/pax for its footprint) and will be air-refuelable themselves.

  2. reading the CEO’s comment, I could reverse his statements and come to the conclusion the draft RFP would not motivate Boeing to offer an 777 based model.
    It a bit of a spin to claim the RFP favors the 767 based on this comment.

  3. If a small aircraft can meet the RFP’s minimum requirements, it favors the smaller aircraft because smaller aircraft is going to be cheaper than the larger aircraft, all other things being equal.

    But how do you avoid this without favoring a larger aircraft in turn? If you raise the minimums, then the KC-767 is eliminated from the contest.

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