Boeing, as expected, announced that it will offer the KC-767 to the US Air Force for the KC-X aerial refueling tanker competition.
The press release is below the jump.
There are a couple of very specific references in the press release challenging the KC-767 vs. the Northrop KC-30, which is based on the Airbus A330-200.
What we find particularly interesting is the announcement that the KC767 will have a 787-based cockpit, and a new fly-by-wire boom that as best we can tell is V 6.0 derived from the ill-fated KC-767AT. Illustrations on Boeing’s tanker web site have consistently shown a KC767 with winglets, but the press release says nothing about this (the updated tanker website continues to show a KC767W). It’s unclear what, if any, wing structural changes or whether a new wing might be involved, another feature from the KC767AT.
Boeing continues to cite the 24% fuel burn advantage it claims of the KC767 over the KC-30, which does not take into account additional savings afforded by winglets, which amount to about 4% on the commercial 767-300ER.
We also note Boeing’s specific reference to a flight control system that gives the aircrew “unrestricted access to the full flight envelop for threat avoidance at any time” as opposed to the computer-driven fly-by-wire system of the A330.
It has been assumed Boeing would offer a KC767 based on the Italian KC767, which is several years late and still undelivered. Market sources continue to assert Boeing has problems with the wing-mounted pods (Boeing previously said this has been fixed) as well as the fuselage center-line hose-and-drogue (Boeing previously declined comment). Boeing calls its offering the low-risk solution. Northrop continues to point to Boeing’s non-delivery of the Italian tankers as evidence of high-risk. EADS’ KC-330 MRTT is 18 months late to launch customer Australia.
We are hearing more and more than Northrop is more likely to protest the Final Request for Proposal than to no-bid the project. A announcement is expected by next week.
The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today announced that it will offer the Boeing NewGen Tanker in the competition to supply the U.S. Air Force with a multi-mission aerial refueling aircraft that will meet all the warfighter’s mission requirements for the next several decades.
Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, said the Boeing NewGen Tanker will satisfy all mandatory Air Force requirements and offer an American-made tanker that will be capable, survivable, and combat-ready at the lowest cost to the taxpayer.
“Having supplied tankers to the Air Force for the past 60 years, Boeing has drawn on its unmatched aerial-refueling experience to thoroughly review and evaluate the KC-X solicitation issued by the Air Force,” Muilenburg said. “We respect and understand the KC-X requirements, and appreciate the importance of this program for the United States and its warfighters. We intend to bid for the honor to work with our Air Force customer to replace the existing fleet of KC-135 aircraft with a new-generation, multi-role tanker in a fair and transparent acquisition process.”
Boeing studied the mission requirements closely to determine the optimal airframe size that would deliver the most capability for the lowest cost to own and operate. The result was the NewGen Tanker, a widebody, multi-mission aircraft based on the proven Boeing 767 commercial aircraft, updated with the latest and most advanced technology and capable of fulfilling the Air Force’s needs for transport of fuel, cargo, passengers and patients.
The multi-mission aircraft is named NewGen because it includes several state-of-the-art systems to meet the demanding mission requirements of the future. They include:
The NewGen Tanker will meet all of the Air Force’s 372 requirements – including a production rate at whatever level the Air Force determines – with a low-risk approach to manufacturing that relies on existing Boeing facilities in Washington state and Kansas as well as U.S. suppliers throughout the nation, with decades of experience delivering dependable military tanker and derivative aircraft.
“The NewGen Tanker will draw on the experience and talents of an integrated U.S. Tanker Team, including the best of our Boeing defense and commercial businesses and our nationwide supplier network,” said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “It’s a proven team and existing infrastructure that is ready to deliver these NewGen Tankers on Day One.”
More cost-effective to own and operate than the larger, heavier Airbus airplane, the Boeing NewGen Tanker will save American taxpayers more than $10 billion in fuel costs over its 40-year service life because it burns 24 percent less fuel. The Boeing NewGen Tanker program also will support substantially more jobs in the United States than an Airbus A330 tanker that is designed and largely manufactured in Europe.
Boeing has been designing, building, modifying and supporting tankers for decades. Those tankers include the KC-135 that will be replaced in the KC-X competition, and the KC-10 fleet. The company also has delivered four KC-767Js to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and is on contract to deliver four KC-767s to the Italian Air Force. Three of the four Italian tankers are in flight test, with the fourth airplane in production.
The Air Force released its final KC-X Request for Proposal on Feb. 24. Boeing will deliver its proposal by May 10, within the 75-day period set forth in the terms of the solicitation. The Air Force is expected to announce its decision later this year.