Boeing’s secret KC-X plan

While France elevates the complaints over Northrop Grumman’s withdrawal from the USAF KC-X competition to a head-of-state level, a Boeing insider has leaked the company’s secret NewGen tanker plans to this column. We show the exclusive picture after the jump.

29 Comments on “Boeing’s secret KC-X plan

  1. It looks more like a A400M. Are Airbus and Boeing secretly colluding?

  2. Is this for real or is this some droll humor following the intusion of Sarkosy into the Tanker fray.

    I thought the picture that Boeing released was the concept pictoialized. This photo seems dated and indicates use in the National Guard as well as not being very sleek or modern looking

    Am I missing something here?

    • Tongue-in-cheek or a sophomoric display of disappointment?

      When the Eu’s highest government leaders are calling the contest, “an affront for France,” the discussion and debate should focus on the relative use of “Patriotisme économique” in each region. We can argue whether or not the USA’s export of “$5 billion worth of defense materials while importing only $2.2 billion from the European side,” is a valid argument to justify a KC-30 award.

      Should military gear be used to balance trade? In the same vein, would the use of the WTO’s initial ruling against Airbus’ in their receipt of “illegal government assistance,” be included in all contests, or is it premature?

      More blog relevant here, could EADS’ A400M stop-work threat for cash be a harbinger of future experiences? Or, is in overt warning? Surely, EADS would threatened the USAF with “stop work” for more money on a fixed price aircraft contract. Yes they would, and justify it with “trade balance” discussions at governments’ highest levels.

      This debate would be more appropriate in a serious blog site. The KC-97 photo is certainly a another display of partiality by the author under a title “Boeing’s secret KC-X plan.”

  3. No, it’s a KC-97, introduced in 1950, retired in 1978.

    Some smartass frog-lover must have thought it would be funny.

  4. Oh, come on, people, lighten up. The photo came from someone inside Boeing.

    Doesn’t anyone have a sense of humor anymore?

    • Yes I do. That was a very good one.

      Even funnier is that the stratocruiser was the A380 of that time.

      Well done Boeing, that was an amazing plane!

  5. leehamnet There does not seem to be alot of humor coming from various parties who were deeply vested in a NG / EADS success.
    ..including the French President!

  6. the French President can go jump off a bridge and keep his big nose out of our business, as I recall we didnt get to bid on their tanker

    • as I recall, the french are flying KC-135’s and they don’t have a replacement plan yet – though EADS/Airbus is setting up an proposal on their own initiative…

      • they do have a plan – they have been planning on getting MRTTs for a couple of years now.

  7. I am reminded of Operation ElDorado Canyon, on April 15 1986. US forces raided Libya in retaliation for terrorist activities. The French goverment didn’t approve of the raids and refused to allow USAF flights based in Britain to overfly France, forcing a 11-hour mission with multiple refuelings to fly around France. I can forsee if we put a French airplane in the tanker fleet, we’d be at risk for a politcal hold-up of some critical spare parts shipment and our tankers would be out-of-service on the ramp instead of being up there passing gas…who needs a French airplane?…not the USAF.

    • KC-135Rs have CFM 56 engines, a joint venture of GE and Snecma/Safran–of France! Never been any issues that we are aware of….

      • We must recall -56 was originally created from a GE engine technology transfer. GE still produces -56 engine sections and parts as part of the partnership, many in location in N America. Even with a 30+% direct French government ownership of Safran, the relationship cannot be risked, especially by the French.

        The Libyan retaliation bombing took 14 tankers to support USAF bombers flying the ocean route from and back to the UK via the Straits of Gibraltar.

    • You forget Spain also refused overfly rights.

      Both countries are situated much closer to Lybia than the UK or the US.

    • If you don’t want people to win, just don’t invite them to bid. How difficult is that?

      From the start, USAF could have gone with a sole contractor and avoid that 10-year debacle.

      Also, don’t come back with historical references.

      In 1940, France was at war against Germany! It took THREE years for the US to intervene (and only because the Germans declared war on the US).

      In 1957, France was up to its neck in Indochina. Where were the US troops? All that could be heard were laughs about the French getting their butt kicked by the little yellow guys (to quote Bruce Springteen). We all know what happened a few years later.

  8. Well I thought it was funny Scott!
    By the way, do my eyes deceive me or does that KC97 sport a turbine under the wing?

      • So, it is a KC-97L.

        Wouldn’t a YC-97J ( turboprop conversion ) based tanker be a
        better proposition?

        To alleviate foreign trade imbalance the engines could be
        sourced from Russia: Kuznetsov NK-12, with a bit of power to spare.

        This would provide enough power that, together with a structurally
        enforced boom and similar strenthening of the hose/drouge and probes
        installation, capabiliities could be extended towards an MRTT version.

        MRTT as in “Multi Role Tanker Tug” ;-=

      • And adding props will ower the speed, making sure the choppers and V-22 can be refueled, thus the marines might get interested.
        Could the approach speed for this KC97 be low enough for carrier ops???

        With a bid of reinforcement on hte lower lobe, it might just float.

        KCVC-97 anyone???

      • Hmmm, are you sure there are no flutter problems having those things on the outter wing? 🙂

  9. Now do you think Boeing are kicking themselves for adding so much to the NextGen tanker – given that they are the only player? Why bother with all those (new) features (e.g. cockpit) – after all they could have just offered the Italian/Japanese version and made some money….

    • all the new features means more work. If Boeing is oicking itself it is because they didn’t add enough features
      They havn’t yet declared possible additions other than just the 787 cocpit screens, have they?
      767 fuselage, 777 wing?

    • Exactly my thoughts. I bet they *are* kicking themselves now for offering all these ‘new’ things on the 767.

  10. This aircraft looks “Combat ready now”.

    I think the additional jet engines are due to reach the required overrun speed.

  11. What about the big radome on top? and the massive antennae from front to aft?


    • Well, with the excess power the Kuznetzovs would provide
      there is some leeham for further addons.
      But that hull is not really spacious, so my first change
      would be to add the modifications the Super Guppy Turbine
      added to the basic airframe.
      This would provide room for AWACS consoles and some
      additional transient crew R&R ( maybe even a sun deck?)
      External surface area on the hull is increased to provide
      for that small antenna infestation look of modern ELINT
      platforms. The large diameter hull would further provide
      room for a cryogenic liquid Hydrogen Tank to fuel the next
      gen UAV craft ( just read a report on projected hydrogen power )

      I love brainstorming.

  12. Clearly, this isn’t a ‘combat ready’ offering as there are no winglets slapped on! Boeing likes to emphasise this in their propaganda videos!

  13. very tawdry, very sour grapes.

    Get over it, your euro favorite is a goner.

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