DOD is within its rights to extend tanker deadline

It was predictable that Boeing supporters would become apoplectic when the Defense Department said it will extend the May 10 deadline 60 days to July 9 should EADS decide to submit a bid for the KC-X program, but legally DOD is within its rights.

We talked with two people yesterday who have no skin in this game and both told us that at this stage, ie, before bids have been submitted, DOD has the full discretion to set the deadlines any time it wants. Or DOD has the discretion to cancel the competition altogether, to be extreme about it.

Boeing issued a statement the next day saying it was weighing its options. What are they? (1) Don’t bid. (2) File a protest with the GAO. (3) Go to Congress. (4) Do nothing.

It’s clear the Congressional route is already being worked, given the outrage expressed by Boeing’s Congressional supporters. But forget any formal Congressional action; this isn’t realistic.

Neither is the prospect of Boeing not bidding. The strategic and tactical reasons for Boeing pursuing the contract are compelling and have been discussed here many times.

Boeing should simply move forward.

Some have also raised the prospect of Boeing filing a protest with the GAO over the extension and over DOD’s continued refusal to consider the WTO ruling finding Airbus illegally benefited from subsidies. Watch out. The 60-day extension to file a bid, to July 9, should EADS elect to pursue one, takes this past the anticipated June report to be issued by the WTO on the European complaint that Boeing illegally benefited from subsidies, including R&D from NASA and DOD. If Boeing wants to insist that WTO findings be included in the DOD assessment, Boeing could well find itself under the microscope as well; it is widely anticipated Boeing will also be found to have illegally benefited.

Further, we would watch with great amusement how those Boeing supporters who shouted about the adverse affect of the 90-day extension EADS sought, and the 60-day extension granted, would have to the process and to the warfighter would rationalize the lengthy delay that would be engendered by a Boeing protest over a mere 60-day extension–particularly since DOD plans to accelerate its evaluation period in order to maintain an early fall contract award. In the worst hyperbole and demagoguery, some claim the warfighters’ lives and safety are at risk from this 60-day extension (never mind DOD is sticking to its award deadline); let’s see them explain this away should a GAO protest be filed.

One media suggested a protest by Boeing to the WTO should be filed over the extension. This shows a misunderstanding of military procurement: WTO rules don’t apply.

For those Boeing supporters who complain about the extension, the mistake made–if there was one–was that DOD wanted competition and not a sole-source bid. But you can’t unring that bell now.

We still maintain that all this politicking is unseemly at best and the debate should be over whose airplane best fits the mission outlined in the RFP. Boeing says its airplane is best. EADS says its airplane is best. It remains unclear whether EADS will bid; it wanted a 90-day extension and isn’t sure 60-days is enough, and furthermore it is still concerned that the RFP favors Boeing’s KC-767. Let’s get on with it.

We’ll know perhaps in the week of April 12 if EADS is even going to proceed.

44 Comments on “DOD is within its rights to extend tanker deadline

  1. IMO BA best route is to do NO more than they have already done. DO NOT file a protest, DO NOT further bitch….

    Any overt or further action will only serve to delay things even more.

    Neither side has clean hands

    Insofar as possible – take the high road.

    Problem is the overhanging korporate Kulture of Mendacity esconced in the BA BOD in the form of John S McDonnell – so labeled by a federal judge several years ago in Tulsa, ( Milsap v MCDonnel Douglas ) and even further rips in a current case in Tulsa regarding the BA sellout to Spirit and trying to weasel out of contract terms for the displaced employees.

    There are still way to many like mined execs in the Military side.

  2. I thought in the DOD announcement it indicated that EADS had to submit a letter indicating their definite interest in making a bid before they would grant an extension.

    This is not a technicality but a one two step of committment and is seen as such.

    Who knows where and when this dance will come to an end.

    I certainly agree with Don S above

  3. Yes, the extension is dependent on EADS making a commitment to bid on the contract. This dance has taken a long time, but at least it does appear as if there is an endpoint.

  4. The DOD stubbornly insists the USAF will get a cheaper tanker by rolling out the red carpet to EADS….either a cheap price from Boeing but in reality we will end up with a cheap product from Airbus.

  5. Ok so I am curious. Let’s say that EADS bids and wins this contest on their own and no one protests..(yeah right). Does this effectively put Boeing out of the tanker business? What does it do to the company in the short and long haul?

    • During the 2007-08 competition, Boeing told us that if it lost that competition, it would be out of the tanker business for 40 years. We presume that would still be their position today.

  6. After many years of political infighting, it is most ironic and indicative of the political gridlock in the USA on almost any subject, that the US Air Force is probably going to end up operating the inferior 767 based “Frankenmonster”
    for delivery sometime after 2013.
    In the meantime, the Australian Airforce will receive it’s first two of five KC- 30 tanker transports this year, based on the more modern state-of-the- art A330 commercial airliner.
    Furthermore and indicative of the fact that the KC-30 apparently is the preferred and thus the superior tanker/transport by four US allied airforces, Australia, England, SaudiArabia and Emirits, who all choose the KC-30 Im- mediately when it became available, after which not a single KC-67 was purchased by any other airforce, after those few ordered and delivered 2 years late, to the Japanese and Italian airforces.

    What really may hurt the US more than is realized at this time, is the strong impression the US has given to the rest of the world, that we have now re- started “old fashioned protectionism,” by having rewritten the rules to favor the Boeing bid, after they lost the race in the first round.
    This because, the Europeans are now convinced that the KC-30 is the best aircraft, by the US first confirming that the KC-30 was the best tanker/ transport available when it was selected in the first round, to than lose the deal after the rules were rewritten to make the KC-67 win, NOT on overall merits, but because the superior capabilities of the KC-30 were “considered beyond the requirements of US airforce.”
    Note: it was only AFTER Boeing lost in the first round, that Boeing protested
    about the fact that the KC-30 had more capability than required and
    demanded another chance, as if they did not even know until than, that
    Northrop was their only competitor with the KC-30, from the start!

    Two very dangerous consequences could very well be the result of the above shenanigans, for the US and for Boeing in particular, as follows:
    1. Future foreign military aircraft purchases may never again be decided on
    the merits of the aircraft involved, as it did in the case of the F 35 JSF
    against the Eurofighter Typhoon, which the F35 won fair and square.
    2. Worse still, many jobs may be lost at Boeing In Seattle, if European airlines
    and others, who do not have to explain their future selections in favor of
    one aircraft or another, decide to purchase the Airbus aircraft, should
    there not be a clear and major advantage in favor of the Boeing aircraft.

    Rudy Hillinga
    Director Boeing Aircraft Sales, retired

  7. Interesting comment from Mr Hillinga, who claims to be a retired director Boeing Aircraft sales.

    A search on the Boeing site going back to at least 2000 comes up with zip. So it may very well be that he retired many years prior to the tanker competition or program starting in 2000-2001

    In any case, he seems to be complaining that boeing did NOT complain BEFORE the last competition that the KC 30 ” won” . I would expect that being in sales, that kind of complaint would be more likely to backfire, especially in that kind of competition.

    There is NO question that an 18 wheeler has MORE capability than an 8 passenger van regarding load, and with a hundred gallon gas tank maybe even better range.

    But why should anyone buy it to take the groceries home once a month. ?

    Its a little hard to figure just what his point is- especially when he seems to ignore why then KC-30 lost-

    What happened to the old sales mantra – the customer is not always right, but is ALWAYS the customer ?

    Just how much penalty is involved in refitting the RAF versions to withstand small arms fire ? which was what the RAF did not want- but what was supplied ?

    • Careful, Don. We’ve known Rudy since 1986. He is who is “claims” and he did retire in the 1980s, joining a lessor then.

  8. Just a question for Rudy, which JSF vs Typhoon contest are you referring to? The two aircraft have not gone head to head for any major contest that I’m aware of. In general the JSF has sold like most military projects, A400M included on the promise of offsets and industrial work. I am aware of the Gripen losing out to the JSF in Norway, due in large part to the greater chance for industrial participation for Norway with the JSF. Military procurement has in general only been based on merit when it has been one national company versus another company. If the KC-767 was selected because of a nationalistic preference it would be nothing new in military procurement, in fact it would be the norm for this business. Selection of the KC-30 would however, be outside of the norm and potential change the dynamics of the business, but selecting the KC-767 although seen as nationalist would not really change much.

    Afterall it was Gallois himself that said ten years ago we would have had no chance at this contract (refering to the KC-X). If the KC-30 is not selected at worst trade is set back to pre-Bush 1990s policies where major US military contracts were reserved for US manufactures and major EU programs were reserved for European manufactures. If the US government really wants to promote free trade they are missing an opportunity here but selection of the KC-767 would be very normal for this industry and not a big change in SOP if it did happen.

    • “The two aircraft have not gone head to head for any major contest that I’m aware of.”

      Within the European Union, the Netherlands snubbed the Eurofighter early on (2002) in favour of the JSF while the Eurofighter consortium pulled out of Denmark and the EEA (European Economic Area) country Norway in late 2007, as they rightly suspected that the competitions were tilted in favour of the JSF (such as the US applying some not-so-subtle pressure on both countries to buy JSF etc,).

      In the UK, senior decision makers within the MoD have long since been “unhappy” with the JSF development programme (lack of JSF alternate GE/Rolls Royce engine, failure of the US to grant the UK full access to the software codes, likely performance shortfalls, ITAR etc, etc). Conceivably, the F-35Bs might be given the chop by the MoD (replaced by Super Hornets or Rafales for the RN), or the MoD might shrink the RN altogether and buy more Typhoons (and in that case the Typhoon is certainly a competitor to the JSF). Also, it might not help the UK’s ongoing and future involvement in the JSF if it’s perceived in the UK that EADS (and Airbus UK) in anyway would be treated unfairly while Boeing is “protected” with seemingly ugly jingoistic protectionism. As I’ve indicated in previous comments, the US could certainly have chosen the sole source route on the tanker program at one point, but once EADS was allowed in after round one the Pandoras box had been opened.

      Even if the JSF programme doesn’t derail, there’s a growing possibility that a decade hence, you’ll see, among other things, a EU sponsored, European led, ITAR-free, 5/6 generation fighter programme started with participation from other nations (i.e. Australia, Japan etc). Surely, the UK would be far less inclined to maintain their “free market” policies vis-à-vis the US in the defense arena if it’s shown that it’s mainly a-one way-street (with the KC-X being an important harbinger), and would in all likelihood seek more pan-European and less transatlantic coordination on defense acquisition programmes.

      “If the KC-767 was selected because of a nationalistic preference it would be nothing new in military procurement, in fact it would be the norm for this business.”

      It would certainly be “new” in US military procurement if the KC-30 would be selected over the homegrown favourite.

      “Selection of the KC-30 would however, be outside of the norm and potential change the dynamics of the business”

      1) Selection of major US made weapon systems have long since been the norm among America’s allies in Europe.

      2) Selecting the KC-30 will certainly influence the tanker business. However, the LCA business, with both OEMs delivering close to 500 planes per year, will hardly be influenced one way or the other by the way this one goes.

      “Afterall it was Gallois himself that said ten years ago we would have had no chance at this contract (refering to the KC-X)”

      True, because at that time no boom had been developed, no EADS tanker aircraft had flown yet, and no UH-72As were flying with the USAF (etc, etc).

      “If the KC-30 is not selected at worst trade is set back to pre-Bush 1990s policies where major US military contracts were reserved for US manufactures and major EU programs were reserved for European manufactures.”

      And which EU programs are you thinking of?

      What is true though, is the fact that historically, the US has been significantly less open to European defense contractors than vice versa.

    • I am not aware of any competition between the JSF and the Eurofighter.”
      Several European countries, headed by the UK, had invested billions on a new fighter/bomber in the 1990s and here comes the US, Lockheed, with the JSF a few years later.

      The stated objective was not only to build the best F/B, but “to reduce the unit cost per unit for the US tax payer,” by “offering” the airplane to as many allied airforces as possible.

      I was in Holland during parliamentary debates on the issue of selecting the JSF or the Eurofighter and it was made very clear by the PM, that the US had made it quite clear, that the US government ha d made it very clear to the Dutch, that the decision should be made on the merits of each program and NOT on political (European jobs) considerations!

      Consequently, England, the biggest contributor in the Eurofighter program, as well as Holland and several other EEC countries who would have benefited from their participation in the Eurofighter program, lost the political battle and agreed to buy the JSF, which I have to assume, IS the better of the two airplanes, for the same reasons I assume the KC-30 is a better T/T than the KC-67, because the KC-30 was the aircraft purchased by four allied air- forces around the world, as soon as it became available!

  9. I enjoy reading the discussion of this issue on this site, and appreciate the comments of actual participants in the drama. For my part, I can claim no special expertise on this subject other than following the Boeing vs. Airbus saga fairly closely for about 15 years.

    With that said, it amazes me to see people seemingly sincerely claim that there is any kind of serious outrage on the part of the Europeans over there being a hometown advantage in this contest. Are we seriously to believe that France or Germany would under any circumstance award such a contract to Boeing if an Airbus product close to their requirements were available?

    The tnaker buy, an order for nearly 200 widebody airliners, will be an enourmous boon for whichever of the two major commercial airframers wins the order. It seems to me that 200 extra sales at the tail end of the life of a model’s line must make a huge difference in the overall lifetime profitablility of the model. (While the 767 may have a decade on the A330, I expect both will be finished as soon as the 787 and A350 come on line.) That profitability in turn must make a substantial difference in the ability of the airframer to continue the development work on new models that is the actual life’s blood coursing through an aerospace company’s veins.

    Witholding that boon from a critical and shrinking domestic engineering capability seems a poor strategic move. And the European insistence that the US ought to do so seems remarkable when considered in light of the fact that Airbus, unlike Boeing, is not historically a purely commercial venture, but rather a national (regional?) champion assembled specifically to wrest part or all of the commercial airliner industry from U.S. companies. It is only Airbus’s enormous success (and congratulations for it) that has allowed it to take on more of a veneer of commerciality of late. Still when the organization makes a misstep as it did with the A380 – a great plane that contributes more to Airbus’ vanity than its profitablility, Airbus’s European state sponsors stand at the ready to ensure the company and the, industrial base that goes with it, suffers no long term harm.

    Yes, the EADS entry will also offer manufacturing jobs in the U.S.. It is hard to conceive of those jobs numbering as many as the 767 offers since the A330s would be built in France and flown to Alabama for finishing work. Even so, manuafacturing jobs form only the lesser part of the important industrial base that is at stake. The engineering and design capabilities that are the true critical national asset would be supported in Europe –not the United States.

    As for the potential benefits of reciprocity mentioned by Mr. Hillinga, any reciprocation that Europe might offer (and again, I don’t believe they really would) is a bad bargain for U.S. defense firms because for better or worse the U.S. defense market is far bigger than the European one, and therefore reciprocal acquisition practices offer more benefit for European firms.

    I do not like the idea of a sole source contract. I’m not even sure I believe the Air Force really needs as many tankers as it intends to buy, but I do believe that the process of spending so much public wealth needs to take into account the full scope of impact on national strategic and industrial capabilities. I think the existence of Airbus at all as a world beating aerospace company is all the evidence that anyone should need that Europeans would feel the same way.

    • “As for the potential benefits of reciprocity mentioned by Mr. Hillinga, any reciprocation that Europe might offer (and again, I don’t believe they really would) is a bad bargain for U.S. defense firms because for better or worse the U.S. defense market is far bigger than the European one, and therefore reciprocal acquisition practices offer more benefit for European firms.”

      Ohhh, I’ve made this point in the past an been roundly criticized for it. But it is the simple truth in this case. EADS wants access to the US market a lot more than Boeing or Lockeed or Northrop want access to EADS home markets of Germany, France and Spain. In general I thought Leeham.Net had a great point a few years ago when they pointed out as a compromise the USAF might buy 179 KC-30 tankers and EU countries would cancel the A400M and buy 90 C-17s and 90 C-130s which would be roughly of equivalent value. That way both groups could get the benefit of an existing airframe and infrastructure investment without the need to build a new FAL in the US or pay the money to upgrade the 767 for tanker duty.

      However, without some sort of recipricoil agreement like that I just don’t see EADS ever gaining a major foothold in the US defense market. Alabama seems sold on the KC-30, but aside from Alabama there is very limited support for the KC-30 in the US. Even Senator McCain said it would be just fine with him to have Boeing as the sole bidder in the latest contest. In sum I just don’t see the US jumping at the chance to buy anything more than light helo’s from EADS without some sort of direct reciprocity. The benefits of an open Atlantic Defense market are just too one sided for the US to agree to such a venture without some really big contracts from the other side, and I mean big contracts like the A400M, not contracts to sell a few dozen F-16s here and there.

  10. In about 5 years or so, the AF will most likely open bidding on a replacement for the KC-10 tankers.

    The Airbus model would come closer to meeting that requirement. After all, tankers can be used to ferry large quantities of fuel to ‘ forward’ bases in the pacific / asian theater or to friendly bases in some areas of ” western’ europe or africa.

    Yes cargo ships are cheaper – but slower- and still have a problem being protected from subs, etc.

    Of course at that time a 777 derivative might then be a contender.

    IF Airbus/EADS lowballs their bid to ‘ win” , the resounding outrage in Congress with the current unemployment and fiscal problems along with the unions, suppliers, etc will make the POLITICAL pitchforks and torches parade on the ‘ castle'( congress) in old horror movies or the scenes in les miserable look like simple school plays. Any incumbent up for election would have NO choice but to cut all funds- and delay things for another 3 years.

    One can only hope that BA does not again seduce fido .

  11. As a footnote to the debate about what the european nations will, or will not do, in the future WRT defense purchases. France just opted to purchase CN-235 transports as a bridge to provide capacity while they wait for the long delayed A400M. While a C-130J purchase would have spoke volumes, this one does too. How can anyone seriously think they will foresake their own indigenous industrial base and buy U.S. aerospace products? Yet, we are protectionist?

    • Nonsense. A poor example indeed.

      The French Air Force has the old C-130H/C-130H-30 models in its inventory, and not the new C-130J model. As you should know, it’s much more expensive to buy and introduce an all new model, which is largely the case for the C-130J, than adding aircraft to an existing fleet. Also, in this case, the CN-235 has only one fourth the payload capability of the C-130J (in fact the CN-235’s MTOW is about 5 tonnes less than the C-130’s payload capability). As is well known, the CN-235 is a light freighter and a troop transportation vehicle and not comparable to the C-130J at all.. If you want to “arrest” the French, perhaps you should try to find another procurement than the just announced order for 8 CN-235s for the Armée de l’Air.

      • Not nonsense at all. If the french wanted to provide an example of the “two way street”, they passed on a splendid opportunity. The C-130J is the closest in size to the A400M and would have been a more suitable bridging aircraft, but the onus on the french is to “support the home team”. The article here clearly states that they are a “stop gap” measure due to the lengthy delays on A400M deliveries.

        http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=4564377&c=EUR&s=AIR

        So if the C-130J isn’t comparable to the A400M, where does that leave the C-235?

      • Don’t believe everything you read in an article. A simple “analysis” on your part would have shown that since 8 CN-235s equals 2 C-130Js, it would make little, or no economic sense to buy just 2 C-130Js.

      • Attempts to minimize the news the the french opted for the home team in an almost knee jerk fashion don’t obscure the fact that once again they passed on a chance to provide the best interim solution for the french “warfighter” and select the most capable plane. There was no public tender and it almost took a detective to find out that this transaction had been completed. The french are saying “Do as we say, not as we do”.

      • Home Team???

        Aurora, it’s highly amusing to see that this stuff has been posted by you at dodbuzz.com (and presumably at other websites as well), when you again, and again, just can’t seem to get your (incomplete) facts straight. 😉

        The CN-235 was developed jointly by CASA of Spain (now EADS CASA) and Industri Pesawat Terbang Nusantara (IPTN) of Indonesia (In 2000, the IPTN changed name to PT. DIRGANTARA INDONESIA, or Indonesian Aerospace, abbreviated IAe). The centre wing box and the cockpit, forward and centre fuselage are assembled by EADS/CASA in Spain, while IAe assembles the rear fuselage, tail section and outer wing. There are two final assembly lines in Seville, Spain, and in Bandung, Indonesia.

        It’s interesting to note that the value of US content on the CN-235 is significantly higher than the value of French content on the aircraft.

        http://www.airframer.com/aircraft_detail.html?model=CN-235

        US content:

        Telephonics Corporation: Surveillance/Air Defense Radar: APS-143C(V)3 OceanEye multi-mode maritime surveillance and imaging radar.

        QED/Inc: Cockpit accelerometers.

        GE-Aviation- Aircraft Engines: CT7-9C3 turboprop engines.

        French made parts:

        Precimecan (Caromar Group): Precision Machined Parts – Structural parts & door mechanisms

        Ratier Figeac (NB: OWNED by Hamilton Sundstrand, Connecticut, USA): Composite 14 RF Propellers.

        As for any “knee-jerk reaction”, it seems to me that that is something you tend to resort to when it comes to KC-30 and A400M related “stuff”. Making such a fuzz out of this “non-news” of the Armée de l’Air making a top-up order for 8 CN-235s, is nothing but ridiculous.

      • OV-099, denying the fact doesn’t obviate it. The french action is ill timed and patently protectionist. The declaration that these little planes are a “stop gap” for the much, much larger A400M is farcical. Personally, I think they are correct to support the “home team” in any way they can with regards their infrastructure. I have advocated that this tanker deal be sole sourced for years to Boeing.

        As for “knee jerk” reactions, [deleted].

      • It’s obviously nothing wrong with advocating a sole sourced tanker contract to Boeing, but you shouldn’t run around spreading disinformation about EADS and outright falsehoods about some European nations’ procurement policies, and expect not to be called on it.

        In this thread, you’ve seemingly been stating your opinion as “facts”, although most of these “facts” are demonstrably false.

        Most of the CN-235 is made in Indonesia and Spain. It’s pretty telling that you’ve not responded at all to my claims (i) that the value of the US-made content of the CN-235 is significantly higher than that of the French-made content of the aircraft (meaning that your claim of “protectionism” is nothing but absurd), and (ii) that it’s significantly more expensive (in this case as well as most other cases) to purchase a micro fleet (two copies) of an ALL NEW MODEL compared to the costs of a top-up order for an aircraft that is already in the fleet.

        Even though this seemingly well timed procurement of 8 extra CN-235s will offer extra capability to the Armée de l’Air (relatively cheaply as well), until the arrival of the A400Ms, it would not necessarily preclude a French purchase of C-130Js in the future.

        Quote: Jean-Pierre Maulny, deputy director of think-tank Institut des Relations Internationales et Stratégiques, said a French acquisition of the C-130J would be logical. “The Air Force already uses the C-130, the Transalls are out of breath and when the Transall is retired, there will be a big capacity gap,” Maulny said. Maintenance and support needs mean a fairly large interim fleet would be needed to amortize the costs, he said. Moreover, A400M deliveries are to be stretched out over 10 years.

        http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=4127295

    • OV-099. The CN-235 is made by CASA, a division of EADS. The French government is a major shareholder/owner in EADS. It is rather obvious that they opted for this little propeller plane, rather than a much more capable U.S. made transport, because it was made “by the home team”. That is their (the french) way. I have not problem with it per se, but I do have problem with their (and others) preaching that the U.S. is being protectionist by structuring its tanker RFP in a certain way, or that we have an obligation to select what they deem “the most capable plane”. That smacks of sheer hypocrisy.

      One is free to cite extraneous, and irrelevant “facts” to in a silly attempt to derail the central issue: French protectionism. The knee-jerk, almost pathological compulsion to feed the “jobs machine”. But as I said, that’s fine, that’s their model. Just don’t expect reciprocity.

      As for

      • Fact: The French Government’s shareholding percentage in EADS is 15 percent. Interestingly their shareholding percentage in AF/KLM is around 18 percent. AF has almost twice as many 777-200ER, 777-200F, 777-300ER aircraft in its fleet (or on order) than A332s and A343s, and yet there was no interference from the French Government when AF chose the Boeing option.

        Fact: The French Air Force initial acquisition of the CN-235 occurred long before CASA became a part of EADS. No need for a RFP for a top-up order.

        Fact: The CN-235 has considerably more US-made value content than French-made value content.

        Fact: A top-up order for an ADDITIONAL 8 CN-235 (type which they already operate) is considerably less expensive than the acquisition, operating, support, and life cycle costs for a micro fleet of just two C-130Js (not economical). Selecting the C-130J would be a poor use of resources as the aircraft is essentially a whole new airplane, with little in common with their old C-130H/E aircraft.

        Fact: The enlarged CN-235 fleet will be able to be utilised to such an extent that the C-130Hs and C-160s can be partly “relived of their duties.” This will lead to fewer cycles required for these old workhorses while their service lives can be extended until enough A400Ms have been delivered.

        Conclusion: Nice try, but a pretty poor pick of choice.

      • “Whistling past the graveyard” comes to mind when I read these heated denials and red herrings such as “but the U.S. content is” or “the French already fly the___”. None of those contentions are relevant to the larger issue.

        FACT is the French passed on an excellent opportunity to take the moral high ground here. That they failed, speaks volumes for their knee-jerk, almost pathological compulsion to support their own industries at any cost. Frankly, I admire this narrow minded approach and wish we would do likewise with our defense purchases.

      • The fact of the matter is that the CN-235 is just about the poorest choice you could’ve picked in trying to “prove” that France supposedly is far more protectionistic than the US. That’s the issue here, and not that France is just about as protectionistic as the US in defense procurement. This idea of yours about “taking the high ground” is in this case plainly absurd, and doesn’t square with the general reality in defense procurement that a thorough cost-benefit analysis will trump any lofty gesture.

      • Sweeping generalizations and forceful denials can’t change the fact that the French purchase of the CN-235 was an opportunity lost to set an example of how to choose “the most capable” solution for the “warfighter”. It bears repeating that selecting those little propeller planes has the hall marks of a knee-jerk, protectionist action. Ill timed and, politically speaking, poorly thought out.

        However, we can go back a couple of weeks to Sarko’s rant about U.S. “protectionism” on the tanker RFP and contrast the two actions. Again, its “do as we say, not as we do”. All the denials, obfuscations, “fact” citing, and attempts to derail the discussion can’t change that.

        Deny away….

      • “It bears repeating that selecting those little propeller planes has the hall marks of a knee-jerk, protectionist action. Ill timed and, politically speaking, poorly thought out.”

        Hmm, this certainly sounds like an old scratched vinyl record repeating the same old worn phrase over and over again.

        “However, we can go back a couple of weeks to Sarko’s rant about U.S. “protectionism” on the tanker RFP and contrast the two actions.”

        I couldn’t care less about Sarkozy. Again (for the last time), this is not about silly or poorly thought out remarks by opportune politicians, but about your ill-founded idea of using the Spanish/Indonesian made CN-235 as an illustration, or case-in-point, about French protectionism. As I’ve stated, I consider the US and France to be about equally protectionistic in regard to their military industrial complexes. If one wants to find examples of protectionism, there are plenty abound on both sides of the Atlantic.

        For the last couple of years the French Air Force has been planning a top-up order for 8 more CN-235s. One must certainly have a vivid imagination to conclude that this acquisition is anything but a relatively sound move.

        “All the denials, obfuscations, “fact” citing, and attempts to derail the discussion can’t change that.”

        It’s a hard thing to swallow that facts actually matters, right?

        Seems to me that “all the denials”, “obfuscations” have been uttered by you in addition to you “attempting to derail the discussion”.

  12. Regardless of whether or not the CN-235 better meets the needs of the French AF and is a cheaper and better fit for their existing infrasturcture, the purchase of the CN-235s over the C-130J will be interpretted as a protectionist snub by many in the US. Due to the superior capabilities of the C-130J and the fact that it is a much better gap filler for the A400M than the CN-235 is. As Rudy correctly pointed choosing the KC-767 will be interpreted as a protectionist snub due to the fact it’s capabilities as less than the KC-30, but like the CN-235 the KC-767 is a much better fit for our existing KC-135 based infrastructure and will be much cheaper in the long run in terms of fuel burn and support cost. Nevertheless, the purchase of the KC-767 will be interpreted as protectionism by many in Europe.

    The one great difference in this is that the eight CN-235s will go for around $300 million while the KC-X contract is for $40 billion. So while the US may whine about the contract, Lockheed certainly won’t shed many tears over losing a $300 million contract. The only thing that France’s purchase of the CN-235s really just shows that France doesn’t desire a real open Atlantic Market any more than the US does. Both sides play lip-service to the idea of an open military market as long as they think they will benefit from it. But when it comes to taking a big step to create the market the US will flinch, just like France has.

    • “the purchase of the CN-235s over the C-130J will be interpretted as a protectionist snub by many in the US.”

      Let’s hope that will not be the case since it would just demonstrate an embarrassingly low level of knowledge among the “many” in the US. 😉

      • OV-099,

        While I appreciate our dialogue saying someone has an embarrasing low level of knowledge because they take a certain viewpoint is not helpful. One can easily make the same charge with the KC-X, that because a KC-767 better suits US logistical needs no one in Europe should interpret a KC-767 purchase as a protectionist snub and the fact that any one in Europe would take that interpretation just demonstrates their embarrasingly low level of knowledge about USAF tanker operations and requirements. Actually, a great many of former USAF tanker pilots and operaters have made this comment plenty of times. That however, doesn’t mean they are right or that you are wrong becuase they know a lot more about tanker operations than either of us. And it certainly doesn’t mean many in Europe won’t interpret a US purchase of Boeing’s entry as protectionist if the contract is given to Boeing.

        What it does mean though is that France has missed an opportunity to show that it isn’t protectionist and that there is a real benefit to having an open defense market. In the end all the French really did is provide ammunition to their critics in the US. Many US commentator’s myself included hold the opinion that there is no reason to give EADS more access to the US market than they already have without some sort of recipricoil actions on the part of France and Germany. Whether the French like it or not they are making a very poor case for allowing EADS the access to the US market that EADS wants. It would have been a very powerful statement and cheap statement from France that they do want an open market to order a few C-130Js, given the CN-235s 5 ton capacity, 2 C-130s would have provided the same lift capability for a lot cheaper than $300 million, heck they could have bought double the lift capability for less than $300 million by ordering 4 C-130s, and they could have benefitted from more commonality with the RAF as well.

  13. I am slightly surprised about this (US-centric) idea that the Europeans are at least as protectionist on military spending as the US.

    Growing up in Europe during the seventies, eighties and nineties (I was studying in the Netherlands to be an aerospace engineer when the JSF debacle took place there) I was always being “protected” by F-14s, F-15s, F-16s, etc.

    Actually, no I take that back. Since we’re talking about US opinion here, it doesn’t surprise me at all.

    • What european airforce flies F-14s & F-15s? If you saw them, you can bet it was USN & USAF pilots. How many U.S. manufactured fighters has Germany & France purchased since the ’80s and “90s?

      • How many since the 80’s? Probably very few or none. How many before that? Quite a bit. At least the Germans did.

        On the other hand, how many European manufactured fighters has the U.S. ever bought? If it is not zero, the number must be extremely low.

      • Germany still flies Phantoms. ( 170+- bought and enough F-104 Lawdarts
        to bring to tears a judicual amount of pilot wifes.)

        On the other hand you find a constant stream of bribery scandals
        connecting German politicians, Lockheed and other US entities.
        One will have difficulty finding procurement from US sources that
        did not have some bribery scandals attached. A mix of political
        encouragement from the larger brother and some money for select
        individuals to (g)ease the process.
        ( google for “Skandal” and “Franz Josef Strauß” )
        This certainly muddied the waters a bit and is not limited to aerospace.
        ( .. And makes any US allegations about european lack of morals hilarious 😉
        The hurdle for further shopping sprees in the US was raised quite a bit
        paving the way for the European Tornado ( 1980++).

    • You know — I love Europe, have traveled there a little when I could, and certainly hope to return again. I even have to admit that for most of my life I have been guilty of ascribing higher level of sophistication and civility to our friends across the ocean. Then I started reading aerospace boards where my countrymen are routinely treated to contemptuous comments like yours by otherwise seemingly learned adults and I have come to realize incivility knows no nation. Thanks for that self esteem boost Toulouser.

      • If you think Someone in Toulouse has gone a bit over the top on the Americans, you should read some of the comments directed at Europeans in Fleetbuzzeditorial.com. Not a pleasant atomosphere at all.

        It is a shame that Scott needed to lay down the law but it is good that he has done so. Flightblogger has also recently been having the same problem with people getting carreid away.

      • No contempt felt or intended.

        I was honestly surprised when I think of all the US miltary hardware I’ve seen over here and (as I understand it) lack of non-US military hardware over there.

        And then just before pressing “submit” I remembered the stuff I’ve read on airliners.net et al and realised that *of course* I shouldn’t be surprised.

        I would also agree that France has the same mindset – but across Europe in general there was a great tendency to purchase US hardware… and yes, there has proven to be a lot of palm-greasing along the way, unfortunately.

    • Sorry but I have to agree with the majority here. France is quite protectionist about their industry, especially the military. Germany is to a lesser extent, protectionist as well.
      It is partially about protecting your industry but as most people here know, buying from the U.S. also involves a whole regiment of restrictions due to security issues.

  14. All right, everybody, LISTEN UP. Enough of this personal back-and-forth.

    The rules of this Board are NO personal attacks, barbs or whatever.

    We have no use for Anglophiles, Francophiles, Americanphiles or any other philes, so knock it off.

    Get back to the issues at hand. Period.

  15. It is by now abundantly clear, that whatever the choice of he US Airforce will be in the Tanker/Transport competition, between the KC-67 or KC-30, the losing party will sue, to challenge the decision again!

    Therefore, the following solution should and hopefully will be applied, not only to eliminate the above dilemma, but provide the US Airforce with the most advanced and cost-effective Tanker/Transport, to meet their T/T requirements for the next 50 years or more, in addition to significant spinoffs for Boeing and the US aircraft industry in general!

    As the Swept-Wing technology “fell into Boeing’s lap” from Germany after WW II, so did the revolutionary Blended-Wing-Body, or BWB concept, after Boeing bought MDD in 1997, with the massive amount of research work which had already been done on the BWB concept, at the MDD Phantom Works.

    Based on the amount of data which has been published on the progress made since, with the BWB concept over the past 15 years or more, reporting on it’s potential applications, as well as the development funds which are continuously being supplied to the program from various Government sources, (see FLIGHT International Magazine dated March 22-29, 2010) I firmly be- lieve, that the US airforce could and should now abandon both the KC-67 and KC-30 programs from the competition together and peruse a BWB-configuerd T/T program on an accelerated basis, for the following principle reasons:

    1. The BWB concept will provide operating cost advantages of 30% or more, on a comparable basis, a quantum jump in aerodynamic efficiency, NOT attainable with any “tube and wing” configured aircraft, ever.
    2. Boeing has an enormous lead with the BWB concept, which may not last much longer, because many other countries are becoming increasingly aware of the revolutionary operating-cost advantages of the BWB concept and are rapidly trying to catch up with the US.
    3. Two scale models of BWB configured aircraft have been flight-tested during the past several years and have confirmed or exceeded all
    researched data and a larger, also unmanned BWB testbed is under development
    4. A priority based BWB program, to meet the urgent T/T requirements of the US airforce, will also have significant additional advantages for the US, by applying the BWB concept to commercial aircraft designs, as it did all by itself in the mid 1940s, when it applied the Swept -Wing concept to the military requirements first, on the B47 bomber and subsequently to commercial aviation, with the 707, to become world’s BIGGEST AND ONLY US commercial aircraft builder at the end of last century!

    The above Boeing achievement would never have taken place, had Boeing management at that time, not gone against the general wisdom of all other US aircraft manufacturers, who discarded the swept-wing concept as “unworkable,” and never recovered from their mistake.

    As the above mentioned Aviation Week article also points out, a BWB based aircraft is THE ONLY real defense the US has against the A380 from Airbus and especially it’s planned stretched version with 1000 seats or more.

    This aircraft is expected to be required in the Pacific Rim basin area during the next decade or so first, once the present economic crisis is behind us and the people in the Pacific Rim area start traveling at a rate the rest of the world has, up to now.

    For those who continue to speculate that the A380 program will be a failure, they should take into account that the 747 was also much to big for the first ten years after it had been launched and almost destroyed the Boeing Co. in the process.

    However, by the time the 747 became the preferred aircraft for most intercontinental routes in the late 1970s, it was too late for any other manufacturer to build a competitive aircraft to the 747, due to the huge increase in the development cost of such vehicle, which by that time, had already been totally been written off by Boeing, hence the total supremacy of the 747 over the past four decades!

    The BWB concept, I sincerely believe, has all the potential of repeating the Boeing success story of the halve century, during the next halve century or more, providing its present management exhibits the same courage and foresight its predecessors had in the mid 1940s.

    Rudy Hillinga
    Boeing Director of International Aircraft Sales, Retired.

  16. Given the time constraints- and delivery constraints, then BWB concept is a non starter for the current KC-135 replacement.

    At the very best- it could **possibly** be a contender for the KC-30 replacement- assuming of course a COT requirement for the replacement is not part of the RFP

    Regardless of the long term advantages, it is unlikely that a windowless commercial aircraft will be a big seller – for the same reason that most passengers will simply not put up with much safer rear facing seats.

    The BWB is **IMO*** really nothing more than an advanced- non stealth version of the B-2 bomber, derived of course from the Northrop XB-49 (?) flying wing with similar efficiencies as to L/D.

    The dozen flying wing bombers built were cut up mainly cuz Jack N refused to join with Generous dynamics in Fort worth- and the government simply did not want to keep too many aircraft manufactures in business in the late 40’s

    Now that its down to ONE U.S large airframe manufacturer capable of timely building a replacement tanker- it would make no difference if Boeing put up a 737 tanker or a 747 tanker or a 777 tanker or a 767 tanker.

    Like it or not – BA is the ONLY game in town

    And yes – EADS will bitch and moan and sue – but ***IMO ***there is simply no way they will win this round.

    Of course, since we seem to have no problem with China building Calif Light rail and windmills, and ??? with our tax dollars and stimulus money- and creating many jobs in china instead of the U.S. – Eads may still have a shot !

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