L-3 appears out as EADS partner

Update, April 16, 0900 PDT: Reuters moved this story this morning about EADS options dwindling away.

DOD Buzz has this analysis on why EADS needs a partner.

Original Post:

Reuters just moved this report that L-3 is probably out as a potential partner for EADS in a possible KC-X tanker bid.

This sends EADS scrambling for alternatives.

Reuters also reports that political pressure may have had a hand in Northrop Grumman’s decision to withdraw and that political issues may be involved in L-3’s apparent decision to withdraw from consideration.

If true, if political interference is at work, “incendiary” won’t even begin to cover the fall-out that could come from this.

The Congressional trade publication The Hill has this story about US Rep. Norm Dicks using a press briefing to tell any potential partner to EADS to not do so. This neatly avoids legal entanglements of inappropriately calling companies to send this message by doing so in the public domain.

DOD Buzz has this report on the same Dicks statement.

78 Comments on “L-3 appears out as EADS partner

  1. I do not condone Norm Dicks’ inappropriate statement.

    Politics is what is at the heart of this matter, however, and it is naive to think otherwise.

    There is politics on both side of the Ocean including the recent decision by Brazil to consider French feighter aircraft. Lets not dramatize this long running ten year affair any more then it already has been.

    It is getting harder to distinguish the truth from the fictional.

  2. The torch has been passed from Tricky Dick (37th POTUS) to Tricky Dicks. Ford pardoned Tricky Dick. Who’ll pardon Tricky Dicks? 😉

    • So this just poppoed up…. along with Slimy Sessions, we got EADS buying ex-USAF guys to help them become more “Americain”

      European aviation giant EADS announced on Friday it had recruited a retired US Air Force general to join its board of directors, as the firm vies for a deal to build new US tanker planes.

      General Arthur Lichte’s “experience in command positions at squadron, group and wing levels — as well as Commander of the Air Mobility Command — will provide valuable perspectives as our company brings its proven, mission-ready solutions to America?s warfighters,” Ralph Crosby, chairman of EADS North America, said in a statement.

  3. Like Senator Shelby of Alabama? Or Senator McCain with not less then three EADS lobbyists on his Presidential campaign staff? Or President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Merkel? Or Pierre Lellouche, France’s European Affairs Minister? Those politicians???

    Gee, our European friends seem deaf and blind when politics on their side of the Atlantic rears it’s ugly head.

    • So Joe, you condone indirectly threatening american companies if they form partnerships with EADS? I somehow don’t see the US sitting still for this if some European politician were to make the same statement (threat?).

      As for the list of politicians you have mentioned, have any of them made similar statements to what Mr. Dicks has? I don’t think even Mr. Sarkozy has done so and we all know his penchant for the theatrica.

      • Condone, no. I just think the French crying “protectionism” is a bit like the kettle calling the pot, black.

        And the Europeans have been screaming rather loudly, or haven’t you noticed?

    • so you think the correct response to unethical behavior is to stoop to their level?

      • Unless there is more to these quotes than I’ve seen, I think the response to Norm Dick’s statement is overblown. I think Dicks really may just be stating the obvious. He wants Boeing to win. There certainly isn’t anyone involved with this process who doesn’t know that without his saying so.

        I really don’t think that it is necessary to look as far as the whopping $10,000 in Boeing contributions to Dicks to explain why he is advocating for one of his state’s largest employers. Jeff Sessions held all executive branch hiring for the entire nation hostage in his tantrum over the NG withdraw. I bet he’s gotten some money from EADS proxies over the years, too, but I don’t think that is the reason he has pulled out so many stops along the way in his advocacy of the EADS tanker. I think both are trying to move public money where it will perpetuate and increase their power.

        To my mind, I’d say Session’s offense is the more reprehensible of the two because in the process of looking out for his own, he is willing to trade an important domestic capability away in return for a comparatively unimportant kit building facility in his state. (Not, admittedly, that I would turn up my nose at such a facility if one were ever a possibility in my state. )

  4. I note with interest the quote (as per Reuters article) …”Any potential supplier, such as L-3, BAE Systems or Raytheon, could face “intense political pressure and intense congressional wrath,” he said . . .

    Well, the last time I checked, blackmail was still a crime — even if committed by US govt representatives. This is getting quite interesting.

  5. Incendiary?


    ‘Get over it’, right Scott?

    EADS is finished, just like the tail-snapping A330!

    • Damn politicians won’t get over it. On both sides of the Atlantic. That’s been the problem the entire time….

    • Just out of interest, Mr …, can you give an example of a “tail-snapping A330”?

  6. I personally would like the KC767 to win, but I wish it would include new engines (the GE NexT for the 748). That is due to its smaller size and US origin.

    However, Norm Dicks is my congressman and he makes me just sick with all of his slime. He has gotten so many appropriations for buddies that produce a worthless study for big $$ charged to the Navy.

  7. Does anyone really think that EADS is going to make a legal matter over the “personal” statement made by Norman Dicks.

    I understand the thinking but it seems to me to only aggravate and escalate the political diatribe that is equally voiced by all parties.

    It is doubtful that this will have meaningful effect on a choice of partners and would only cause unnecessary international aggravation or serves as a cover for not being able to get a partner and blaming it on US Politics

    This is all becoming too shrill and aggressive and this competition has to move to another playing field in the future.

  8. Predictably, dodbuzz.com has a more “thorough” analysis than Reuters.



    UPDATE — Turns out EADS NA does have a proxy called EADS North America Defense Security and Systems Solutions. It handles information assurance work for the Air Force. I haven’t been able to find out yet if it could handle other types of work. UPDATE ENDS

    Meanwhile, EADS North America is looking to add suppliers that augment its capabilities with best in class skills, such as engines, avionics, hose and drogue systems, etc. The word we are hearing is that the capabilities of suppliers is more important than security clearances but we’ll have to get more information about this before making any hard and fast judgments.


    Tentative conclusion: EADS will bid as Tier-1 contractor.

    • There are many levels of security clearance required for defense work. Information Assurance is a broad catchall term for safeguarding information in DoD. All DoD employees military and civilian are required to take a 30 minute online course called information assurance each year to access DoD computer systems so informance assurance applies to non-Secret as well as Secret information and is a rather meaningless term. In general your highest levels of clearance deal with intelligence and communications systems. If EADS has not provided the US Military with strategic communications systems (which they haven’t) in the the past it is unlikely they have in place the necessary people with clearances, protocols and other requirements to put together an acceptable bid for this area. The bottom line is EADS needs a top tier communications supplier and integrator like L-3 or Raytheon to make a bid.

      • It’s highly unlikely that the DoD would’ve invited EADS back into the competition to bid as a prime contractor if EADS North America was deemed unfit to bid by the Pentagon, due to a lack of qualified personel on certain highly sensitive communication systems. When you’re making a bid for a major contract you usually haven’t gotten all the “necessary” people in place. It’s only if you win the contract that you start hiring the necessary personel. In this case, if EADS wins, they’ll hire all the necessary US citizens required according US to law in order to deliver a fully militarised KC-45.

      • Its not DoD’s job to guess the intention of subcontractors with respect to the EADS bid. DoD is assuming they could obtain the necessary sub-contractor support to make a successful bid. Some of the issues have do with the coporate structure also, in terms of does EADS have the necessary firewalls between the division doing the communications work and the parent company EADS, which being a foreign entity is not allowed access to certain sensitive equipment.

        While at this time appears EADS has taken the steps to allow them to operate as a prime, the USAF does intend that the plane could be used for signals processing and for it to be able to operate as a flying communications station. This is a very high level of clearance and I honestly doubt EADS could put together an acceptable plan in a few months. EADS might legally be able to bid without a US subcontractor in this area but given their lack of experience in dealing with sensitive US communications gear and contracts I very much doubt that such a bid would be credible. Therefore, I stand by my earlier comment that EADS needs a major US contractor to make a credible bid. Now this might not necessarily be L-3 or Raytheon, it could be a major tier II supplier and EADS would have to handle the boom installation and other aspects of the militarization of the aircraft, but without a major US sub I don’t see a bid happening.

  9. To: Joe on April 16, 2010 at 1:16 pm
    “And the Europeans have been screaming rather loudly, or haven’t you noticed?”

    No, actually not.

    Nothing even remotely comparable to the “mud”volcanoes that have gone of inside the washington beltway and other places of subteranean
    political activity.

    Looks like “freedom fries” with a dash of jingoism all over again.

    • I see. Then you and I are reading different versions of Reuters. Either way, it’s clear to me that EADS has about a 5% chance of winning this round and a even smaller chance of getting the GAO to side with them on a protest.

      I suggest you encourage the French Air Force to put out their RFP so that they can’t be accused of “protectionism” What a joke….

      • different Reuters?

        However do you get that idea?

        The difference seems to be centered around a pronounced feeling of entitlement on the US side.

        The most tasteless drivel from hometurf is seen as “restrained comment” while anything not resembling instant submission from the other side is portrayed as the raving of maniacs.

        In a “rape case” you are arguing for equal opportunity for rapee and survivor. This is absolutely tasteless.

  10. First of all Uwe, my name is Joanne as in a woman, so why you have to resort to comparing this to rape not only offends me deeply, by I find it pathetic.

    “The difference seems to be centered around a pronounced feeling of entitlement on the US side”

    Its MY tax money, my husband who flies KC-135Rs in the Reserves will be flying these aircraft. To you it commercial, to me it’s very personal.

    Let me make this easy for you. EADS is not going to get this contract. If anyone is sounds like their “entitled” to this contract, its those of you who keep grasping at any straw to get the A-330 in USAF livery.

    • So, you are a lady.

      Shouldn’t my comparisson give you an extra moment of cortical pause then?
      Not taking that moment leads you towards missrepresenting the case.

      Nobody in Europe would want to force you to spend “your” money in a
      way you dislike. i.e. if you want to spend your money locally just say so
      and follow up with appropriate action.

      But in this context we have the most rabid proponent for “free” trade handing
      out an internationally scoped RFP that he would nonetheless like to award
      locally. To achieve this, goalpost are moved at dangerous speeds and the local
      intelligentsia is let loose to hound the “false” bidders with all that refuse that
      can be found at the bottom of a barrel of political campaign speeches.

      good rules happen to be set by good example and not from stamping your
      foot and trying to force others by tantrum.

      Even kings used to understand this quite well.

      Even if you do have at the moment the power to assert yourself, each recurrence
      of unfair bullying will loose you some of this power.

      • Uwe,

        I’d have more sympathy for your concerns about American arm twisting and “rabid” support for free trade, if it were not for the fact that every time a European company has a chance to speak with their wallet and locate an assembly facility somewhere in the U.S. they cozy up to the regional heart of the party that consistently campaigns on a platform of anti-regulation, anti-unionism, and American Exceptionalism. Just who exactly do you think the high minded fellows are who are working so hard on EADS’s behalf in congress?

        I’d also posit that we have a very different view of just how much hegemonic power resides in the hands of a country that has in my lifetime forfeited first leadership, then even competitiveness in basically every important technical and industrial pursuit. I suppose my perception is distorted by emotion. I think yours is very much so too.

    • Dear Joanne,
      after some enlightening linguistic guidance exchanged with Mr Hamilton
      behind the scenes I see an obligation on my side for offering an apology
      for any offence taken on your side.
      I certainly have made my argument with an unfortunate choice of words.


      • Apology accepted and appreciated Uwe. But as I said earlier I have more then just a passing interest in this whole affair. My husband is a pilot with a major American carrier. He’s qualified on 757/767/777 and A330/340 aircraft (That should give you a hint who he works for) and he flies tankers, KC-135s in the Reserves. This is not a question of “fair trade” as the WTO made clear last week… They aren’t getting involved if I read correctly. This isn’t about commercial interests as I see many of our European friends view it. This is about the right aircraft for the mission and I happen to know that most of the people my husband serves with want the 767-based tanker because they know what they want in an airplane designed for the mission.
        We can argue all day about which one is the “better airplane”, but I’ll trust the people who know best, the men and woman who fly, maintain, support and go into harms way every moment of a given day, every single day.

      • Joe, could you be more specific? Is the preference for the KC-767 based on:

        Flight characteristics?
        Boeing’s KC history?
        Perceived ruggedness?
        What is meant by “designed for the mission”?
        The KC-30 is “designed for [a] mission” too–why does your husband and his peers [apparently] believe the KC-30 is not designed for “the” mission?

        These would be great points of interest if you have the opportunity to ask Hubby and to share them with our readers.

  11. Uwe.

    You sound like a “gentlewoman” whose comments usually reflect intelligence and knowledge and biases that we all have.

    • I don’t want to disapoint anybody, but I was born male.
      It’s been that way for over half a century and
      won’t change anytime soon 😉

      Lets return to the issue at hand:
      Once political maneuvering has been initiated it is nigh impossible
      to return to a factual decission. This is especially difficult for a
      culture that has made it a religion to be the “winner” at all cost.

      There is an interesting story around from Larry Niven : “Grammar Lesson”
      I think it in this context to be well worth reading.

      There is quite a gulf in how “emotional” unterrances on both sides
      ( and from the opposing side ) are seen.
      I would stand by my opinion that this is coupled to a very strong
      assymetry in perception in a “Quod licet Iovi non licet Bovi” way
      with the Bovi role assigned to the Euro side.

  12. Hi Scott,

    Thank you for the support and providing a forum for these discussions, as I see great value in these debates.

    My understanding is that most of the crews perceive the Boeing offering as:

    Has a more forgiving flight envelope.
    Smaller, therefore easier to handle on the ground.
    Boeing’s history and reputation. Remember. these new aircraft will be replacing Boeings that are 40 to 50 years old. That is a huge advantage for Boeing, especially among the maintenance crews.
    But I think the biggest complaint is the perceived (Whether true or exaggerated) ability to override the Flight Avionics, especially in situations where quick action is called for.
    Hubby has flown the A330-200 a few years back, and that’s his concern. And frankly, he thinks its too big. His feeling is that its a better replacement for the KC-10. And yes, I think most of the front line people feel much more comfortable with an American built aircraft (I know some of our European friends will not be happy with that opinion, but I’m just telling you what I know about from these discussions we have with other USAF colleagues).

    Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to express one military family’s opinion.


  13. Uwe,
    Now I really feel stupid because I have allways thought you to be a woman interested in this area and have followed many of your comments here and on other sites. I guess the name gave me that first impression for whatever association and has remained my baselss impression…certainly not for any other reason . I truly always respected your comments.

    So I deeply apologize for the comment “”gentlewoman” which I sort of thought as a pun on “gentlemen” and would show respect . Please forgive my obtuseness.

    Following this, would you please translate the quote you used: “Quad licit…….” especially the term Bovi as used.

    Lastly, it seems clear to many as stated by Joanne that the A330 is much more suitable for the replacement for the KC 10. I actually thought that EADS and Northrop’s joining in on the Tanker bid was “initiation” for the next KC 10 replacement. There bidding would assure a more competitive contest. This is where things got flummoxed A330 claimed both domains and persuaded some Republicans that this was a better choice. I think most of us understand, like Joanne, that they are different purpose planes and that has been argued very clearly on this site and on others.

    Once EADS and Airbus got their foot into the door ( combined with their desire to build planes in Alabama) they really went after this and John McCain and staff played no insignificant role.

    All is fair in love, war, politics and military acquisition programs and we have sure been witness to that.

    It would be interesting to see if other pilots feel as Joanne’s husband does. His opinion should carry weight as he actually works with these planes and is responsible to carry out the needed tasks.

    • I am happy when people are able to copy my name properly.
      With absolutely phantastic screen names around that
      hide everything beyond what a person writes, gender, ethnicity
      or whatever other specific is rather moot isn’t it 😉

      “Quod licet Iovi non licet Bovi” pertains to double standards:
      > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quod_licet_Iovi,_non_licet_bovi

      Airbus getting a production site in the US would certainly comprise
      a significant stepping stone in “world domination”.
      On the other hand it gives nothing to Airbus that Boeing doesn’t
      already have ( access to).

      So, what other facet of competence found at Airbus ( or for that
      in Europe) has produced a competitive edge?

      The issue cannot be reduced to socialist workplace politics.
      Billions of Dollars and Euros sunk in social wellfare, foreing aid and
      other welldoing alimentation projects show that money injection does
      not produce competitiveness.

  14. Uwe,
    Airbus wished to set up shop in a dollar denominated country (US) and in a non union state. Who knows what further incentives they could have received. It certainly was in their benefit to make that foothold and it is foolish to dismiss that strategy and its significance in this duopoly competition. They would of been able to compete with Boeing with more competitive pricing i.e. Toyota

    Incidently, Nobody dismisses the engineering and design of Airbus products They are good planes and have captured a good share of the market. The competition comes in different aspects…model, timing, pricing and ability to discount. It is a fiercesome competition. The financing of the production is a very important factor and the non recourse loans to Airbus are quite advantageous…even the WTO acknowledges this. But Boeing builds equally, if not better, planes and is a very capable and competent maufacturer It has a different labor force and issues inherent to the USA . It has partners in development which have become a normal part of selling planes

    I know, Boeing gets subsidies too…and the findings will appear soon, but it is a question of the type, nature, etc. etc.. ( Not to be argued).

    The essentail issue is whether the Competitive Tanker bidding was fair, went awry, got hijacked, politicized, et al……etc…etc…

    You and I clearly have different biases and agendas. Mine is quite clear from my “handle” which is open and honest.

    Issues of “Industrial base”, maintenence, jobs, etc . all fall into this dialogue.

    Bottom line, both are good planes…both have different roles, politics plays its part….the A330 seems more suited for the KC 10 replacement….

    Alot of this shreaking and screaming is uncalled for.

    What do you think of Joanne’s husbands comments…don’t they have some validity?

    Again, it is always a pleasure to exchange intelligent thoughts on this subject, but I must admit that it always becomes circular at some point with unbridgeable differences.( I think Boeing building the Tanker and Airbus bidding on the KC 10 makes a great deal of sense ).

    • “What do you think of Joanne’s husbands comments…don’t they have some validity?”

      He is not part of the RFP. No requirement to make Jo’s husband or
      his colleges happy 😉
      No points either for national feel goods or not having to adjust to a
      different corporate logo on the door to the head.

      Don’t take this as ridicule.

      There certainly is worth in full time Airforce and partime National Guard personel

      But an internationaly scoped RFP is an objective accounting of tangible requirements. Participating products will be compared on those requirements
      and those _only_ .

      It is quite clear that extending the bidder scope was targeted not at upholding free market traditions but at putting a slight twist on Boeings arm.

      To everybodies surprise ( at least at home ) this then took an unexpected turn
      when EADS was able to impress airforce deciders with the advantages of
      a more capable craft. It is not clear to me how much political influencing went
      on behind the scenes, but there did not appear to be much splashing and screaming coming from turning this boat towards the 330MRTT.
      No comparison to the ho haw that accompanied the rushed return to known paths
      aided by Boeing.

      The synopsis imho is that one should not invite international bidders if one is not willing to follow through if the “wrong” bidder wins. This is especially valid if
      your mantra is “free trade” and “competition in innovation and efficiency”.

      Historically this will be seen as another loss of face in a longer running rearrangement of power distribution.

  15. Uwe,

    This is far from a perfect world and the world of military acqusitions is probably less so.

    One response to your above troubles me and that was your observation that the” deciders picked a more capable craft”. I am not sure that is an accurate depiction of what occured and I am sure we will differ on this.

    As later determined, the process was such that certain attributes were valued more than others and in discussions with the bidders, these facts and values were not evenly transmitted.

    It would take a court of law and discovery to prove this, but this is what was finally concluded and the bidding had to be reorganized and more clearly defined.

    You are making the invitation to participate in an “international scoped RFP” sound like a hallowed process. It was a process and apparently a flawed one or one that had to be reconsidered and redrafted.

    The process ran amock with political interference. Why don’t you respond to John McCain’s Northrop staff lobbyists helping him run a Presidential Campaign….why not identify the real dynamics behind “influencing the deciders”.

    You are simply presenting an entitlement argument because a flawed process picked the A330. Those dynamics were not upheld in protest. Its like a pit bull response and Airbus will not take its foot out of the door

    This where we differ and probably always will. I recognize the role of politics in this process. You wish to exploit politics and reuse it for your advantage. Here is the circularity and the “better craft” argument which serves as a screen for the underlying politics

    • read again!
      You are stumbling over semantics.

      The A330 is the more capable craft.
      More fuel, more pallets, more versatility,
      younger, ….

      The question here is if those capabilities are
      valuable in the context of one of these RFPs.
      ( it was in the first, it was not in the second )

      The first RFP was adapted (follwing the EADS exposition)
      to actually value those extra capabilites moving away from
      the limited concepts of a cold war implement ( either due to
      political badgering as you would like to view it or the Airforce
      seeing the light in the form of a multipurpose craft avoiding
      the trap of having a single purpose tanker rotting on the
      ground due to low utilisation as I tend to see it.

      Reusing concepts from yesterday except for some changes
      in chrome trim certainly has appeal in the US. See
      the car industry. Don’t miss its final demise, though.

      To finish it off, I don’t follow your final argument
      on my trying to leverage politics.
      Politics essentially is applied unfairness and falseness.
      I in constrast call for standing by ones word.

  16. Joaane,
    Just a couple of points…
    “This is about the right aircraft for the mission…”
    Do you or your husband’s colleagues know what missions the A330MRTT (KC-30 and FSTA) is designed for?

    Can you explain how you can measure this particular parameter?

    “Remember. these new aircraft will be replacing Boeings that are 40 to 50 years old. That is a huge advantage for Boeing, especially among the maintenance crews.”
    If anything I see this as an advantage for Airbus since the costs involved can be amortized over a long period.

    “ability to override the Flight Avionics, especially in situations where quick action is called for”
    Do you have anything specific in mind?

    “I think most of the front line people feel much more comfortable with an American built aircraft”
    Ahhh, now we are talking, it’s the Boeing sticker that you need…

    “EADS is not going to get this contract”
    We are in full agreement on this but then why call for a competitive tender? I have no problem with this being given to Boeing without competition. After all certain Jay Inslee declared that ‘“this is a jobs programme for American workers… basically a jobs programme…” but then don’t create a false sense of competition. In my view this is where most of the problems lie.

    As for Mr.Dicks and his juvenile outburst… he has to earn money for his re election campaign… I see it as nothing more.

    • UKAir,

      So let me see if I understand you correctly…. You know more about tanker operations then my husband who has 4800 hours of tanker flying alone?


      • Interesting…
        Jo, why do you feel the need to answer my question with a completely different question?

        The reason I asked the questions, in the first place, was because as soon as you declare that it is ‘my tax money’ and ‘people feel much more comfortable with an American built aircraft’, you lose the objectivity to judge the two planes on technical merits. Hence when you then declare ‘This is about the right aircraft for the mission’, I asked you do you know what missions the current KC-30 and FSTA or for that matter the yet undefined B767 NewGen, are being designed for?
        If you don’t know the answer or don’t want to answer, say so, but don’t give me this BS about me questioning your husband’s service record.

  17. UKair,

    To my mind, the competitive tender was an attempt to control pricing. It was probably the result of the Boeing scandal and it was not really thought that there would be serious competition since Boeing had a lock on Tankers for so many years.

    John McCain propelled himself into this matter
    initially on the Leasing proposal and now really had some allies to go hunting with. This is all part of the vaguries of politics and campaigning and lobbying in America….both a blessing and a curse. I think it turned out to be a curse but that is my own opinion

    • BI,
      “the competitive tender was an attempt to control pricing”
      In this case you should be celebrating the fact that EADS participation will ensure good value for money for the taxpayer.

  18. UKair,

    I was talking historically. I think there is such scrutiny and requirements now and the process has forced greater clarification as well as the element of a fixed price, that they have finally managed to lower the bid price. It is never easy to control costs when the military is a client i.e. the JSF 35 and its alleged overruns and production delays…and I suppose the A400 too.

    I think EADS is up to no good so I do not celebrate its continued interference. There is a possibility that they are simply trying to leverage some gain by their actions. They are not trying to help the American Taxpayer

    • “I think EADS is up to no good so I do not celebrate its continued interference. There is a possibility that they are simply trying to leverage some gain by their actions. They are not trying to help the American Taxpayer”

      Isn’t this about base capitalism and making a profit?
      Afaik “American Taxpayer happiness” is not mentioned in the RFP 🙂

      Is Boeing trying to help the American Taxpayer? With the tanker contract
      in hand, my guess is that for a dollar or two in profits they will move jobs
      cascading off this contract overseas. For EADS the US already provides
      cheaper labor ( no idea about attainable quality ).
      EADS certainly is not your friendly uncle but could be a reliable partner
      in this context.

    • BI, i thought I had seen it all before but “I think EADS is up to no good …” tops it for me. That was a good laugh.

      • Even more laughable will be the low ball offer coming our way from Toulouse!

      • Aurora, the agrument works both ways but i don’t think DoD will be laughing when they get Boeing pricing if EADS stays away.

  19. Joe, pilots tend to be conservative bunch which, of course, is a healthy quality in aviation. However, since Airbus’ FBW technology (starting with the A320) represented a significant step change in design philosophy, pilots have sometimes taken quite a cynical view of the new concepts involved, especially when not all the facts have been available to them.

    “My understanding is that most of the crews perceive the Boeing offering as: Rugged.”

    It’s not surprising that the KC-135 crews perceive that that aircraft is rugged since the KC-135s were designed at a time where most, if not all structures were developed more robustly. Today’s Large Civilian Aircraft (LCA) do have significantly less “robust” structures than those overbuilt aircraft of half a century ago. When one considers the enormous safety margins involved in modern LCAs, overbuilding an aircraft means more weight than needed to do the job (waste of weight), and correspondingly higher fuel burn.

    Therefore, if most of the KC-135 crews perceive that the current Boeing offering (KC-767) is more rugged; then I’m sorry to say that they don’t seem to know what they are talking about. Both the 767 and A330 underwent a robust design optimization of all of their structures in order to achieve a typical 20-25 year economic design life.

    Funny enough, quite a few Airbus detractors have been trying to infer that Airbus supposedly can’t “build as lightweight” (less structure, less “rugged” (?)) as Boeing can. They’ve been comparing the operating empty weights of the 77L/77W and the A345/A346 to somehow “prove” their point.

    “Has a more forgiving flight envelope.”

    A couple of points:

    First, if you’re talking about the “breakaway maneuver”, please do note that the latest RFP has more or less eliminated that requirement, and that the KC-30 can indeed perform such a maneuver. Last time around the bean counters at the GAO couldn’t “find” the “right” documentation since the A330MRTT had not yet received FAA civilian type certification nor any military type certification in the US. For your information, the KC-30 (A330MRTT) has just now (March 17) received the civil Supplemental Type Certificate from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), while the military certification is expected by this summer.

    2nd, if you’re talking about Airbus’ flight control system, please do note that the KC-30 for RAAF has now been EASA certified with a slightly modified flight control system and that in direct law the pilot can do a barrel roll if he so chooses. In alternate and direct law the plane is still the same, but without all the onboard safety features.

    “Smaller, therefore easier to handle on the ground.”

    Well, a KC-767 fleet will require significant investments in the built up infrastructure from the Eisenhower era as well.

    “Boeing’s history and reputation.”

    Well, that reputation isn’t what used to be, right?

    “Remember. these new aircraft will be replacing Boeings that are 40 to 50 years old. That is a huge advantage for Boeing, especially among the maintenance crews.”

    As I’ve previously indicated, the “rugged” KC-135s have little, or nothing in common with the 767, so this perceived advantage is non-existent.

    “But I think the biggest complaint is the perceived (Whether true or exaggerated) ability to override the Flight Avionics, especially in situations where quick action is called for.”

    As I said in the beginning, pilots have sometimes taken quite a cynical view of the new concepts involved, especially when not all the facts have been available to them. Based on what you’ve written, I seriously doubt that Hubby is an experienced Airbus driver when he seems to be unaware of the FUNDAMENTAL FACT that that you can override the “flight avionics” in situations where quick action is called for.

    “And frankly, he thinks its too big. His feeling is that its a better replacement for the KC-10.”

    Airlines have typically never lent credence to their pilots what they might think about new aircraft acquisitions. The same goes for the USAF.

  20. Uwe,

    The B767 is a multiuse plane too and does not have to sit on the ground rusting. It is just not as large as the A330.

    “Additionally it will simply have added chrome “as you characterize it. It will have upgraded avionics, a proven boom system, upgraded programs, etc. It is a workhorse and does not need to be cutting edge. It is a capable plane that meets all requirements

    Lastly, I do not not like politics any more than you do but I recognize its unavoidable head in this American proposal and I keep repeating that to think it does not play a role is to be naive. That is just the way the world is at this stage of its development.

    I think you and I have completed this circle but I expect to meet you on another topic and ,to prove my apology was sincere, I will let you have the last word on this

    • I’le better refrain form (famous) last words.
      See you elsewhere 😉


  21. Since Scott and others are asking for Boeing supporters to speak to the “attributes” of why some of us feel the KC-767 is a better choice than the KC-330, here’s my points that need to be repeated.

    First let me say that I have 22+ years of tanker operational and employment experience for the USAF – and still doing it. While airlines may not value what the pilots want in an airplane, the USAF is not an airline. To get to the top in the USAF, it is nearly a requirement to have been a pilot with operational experience. I have no doubt that peers of mine (and those that preceded me) had their say into what the requirements are for the KC-135 replacement. What the acquisition folks do with those requirements may get twisted – hence the successful Boeing GAO challenge last time around. (I’m not suggesting the USAF wrote or writes requirements to give a bidder an edge – even though many of the EADS supports allege that.)

    Here are the attributes that make the KC-767 better than the KC-330 as a KC-135 replacement in my view:

    1. Smaller than the KC-330. Because when we take our aircraft to war, we are using loaned/leased ramp space. The more aircraft I can park in that given ramp, the more booms I can put in the air – supporting more war fighting. Size matters – I cannot take to war more tankers than I can park. There will be times when I have to have all my aircraft on the ground. Since I am on borrowed ramp space, I’m at the mercy of our host nation. I have to share that ramp amongst all my flying assets; the larger the length and wingspan, the larger the footprint, the larger the parking rows have to be spaced to allow taxiing, and the fewer planes per row due to longer wingspan. Fact is, I can fit fewer KC-767s in my tanker parking area than KC-135s. Where I could fit 40 KC-135’s, I may get 30 KC-767’s, or 26 KC-10’s, or just 20 KC-330’s. That’s a loss of booms in the air – but less of a loss with the KC-767. The USAF is 100% boom, sure we support the USN, USMC, and NATO customers with our drogues, but booms in the air is most important limiting factor to the USAF contribution of its air assets.

    2. Matches or slightly exceeds the fuel capacity of a KC-135 (at max gross TO weight). More is a little better, but since the replacement is air-refuelable itself, I don’t see much value in having much more fuel capacity. The problem is that the KC-330 is so much larger, such a larger footprint, I lose too many booms on my limited ramp space. Many compare the KC-330 to the KC-10, but if you compare the fuel capacity of them the KC-10 kills the KC-330 in max fuel capacity. I’d take the KC-10 over the larger KC-330 any day. (Yes, the 330 is larger than the 10.) The 330 may be a better airliner than the 10 or 767, but we don’t need/want an airliner.

    3. More capable with Pax, Air Evac, and Cargo. What is most important is the ability to change configurations quickly. More capability than the KC-135 is better, but watch out for the trade-offs in footprint and per-copy costs. An AMC Mission Capabilities Study was just released and guess what – the USAF has excess capacity in airlift (pax and cargo capability) and a shortage of tankers (for air refueling). The EADS supporters are putting much more weight into non-refueling missions than they should. I believe that the USAF is looking for a tanker first, the extra pax/cargo/air evac capabilities are icing on the cake. The DoD doesn’t need to pay for gold-plated weapon systems. I’ll concede that the 330 is better on non-refueling capabilities than the 767, but the USAF wants/needs tankers first and foremost. They should not pay for capabilities they don’t seek or need.

    Fact is today’s modern airliners can’t match the lift of the KC-135 for its size. The smaller one (767) is closer to the USAF requirements without having to pay for capabilities that are not needed. Many EADS supporters point to other air forces selection of the KC-30. Their choice/preference is based on vastly different needs than the USAF’s. Much smaller air forces, much smaller global role, and smaller tanker needs with more need for airlift.

    • But you are now certainly on my Respected List. Thank you GassPasser for saying it better then I ever could. And thank you for your service to our nation.

  22. “Boeing’s history and reputation.”

    Well, that reputation isn’t what used to be, right?

    That’s your opinion UK. It isn’t shared by the USAF maintenance and flight crews. But I refer back to what I said earlier. You seem to be suggesting that you know more about what the USAF should be buying rather then the people who’ll actually be using these aircraft.

    • “You seem to be suggesting that you know more about what the USAF should be buying rather then the people who’ll actually be using these aircraft.”

      People tasked to do a job ( and though doing it well ) are not necessarily
      competent to “design” their job ( procedures, material ).
      ( certainly sounds arrogant, doesn’t it? But it is true, nonetheless. )

      This does not insinuate that us armchair strategists have any more competence 😉

    • Jo, if you had read my posts carefully, you would have noted that I have not commented upon ‘Boeing’s history and reputation’. The rest of your post is answered above. And no, I do not pretend that I know everything.

      • Yes, that was me. I was obviously alluding to how the lengthy delays in the 787 programme have taken its toll on Boeing’s reputation.

      • I’ve read your comments before UKAir, without commenting most of the time.
        With all due respect, it has struck me as boarding on arrogance, although I’m quite sure that wasn’t your intent. And please don’t use BS when responding to me. Everything I’ve said here reflects the opinion of someone I know knows more about this subject the the vast majority on this board, with due respect to all including our host, Mr Hamilton. That may sound arrogant, but like someone here said, it is also a fact.

      • “With all due respect, it has struck me as boarding on arrogance”
        Jo, when it comes to arrogance I have one or two things to learn from some of the contributors here. But I am keen to see what is it that I said, which boarders on arrogance.
        What annoyed me is that after I politely asked you very simple questions, you have chosen to go behind your husband’s service record, hence the BS comment.
        As I said in my original post, I have no problems with Boeing getting the contract without competition and this is my well established position.

  23. OV-99, I’ll be interested in reading your views when the delays on A350 start and by the way, do you feel that way about Airbus with regards to the delays on the A380 or A400M?

    Personally, to me todays aircrfaft are highly sophisticated machines and delays are almost a given, regardless which program you choose… Oh except for one so far… The P-8A Poseidon.

  24. Joanne, it was you who brought the words history and reputation into the equation.

    But since you ask, there’s no question that the travails with the A380 took it’s toll on Airbus’ reputation as well. The A400M is a whole different animal, and compared for example to the cost overruns of the C-5 and the C-17, the A400M programme doesn’t look that bad after all.

    As for the A350, why do I get the sensation that you’re hoping the A350 will be delayed?

  25. “Joanne, it was you who brought the words history and reputation into the equation.”

    Yes I did as I’m expressing the veiws of some military people I know…. And happen to be married to. Seems to me that it disturbs you that many in the military don’t share you point of veiw about the “superiority” of your preferred KC-X platform.

    “The A400M is a whole different animal, and compared for example to the cost overruns of the C-5 and the C-17, the A400M programme doesn’t look that bad after all.”

    Really? I’m glad you’re not in the Pentagon. 🙂

    “As for the A350, why do I get the sensation that you’re hoping the A350 will be delayed?”

    I don’t remember saying nor implying that, I just said I think its likely as in every major new development program.

    Look, I think the sides are pretty clearly drawn in this debate. I know who you and others here are routing for and I think I’ve made my preference clear as well. We’ll NEVER agree and I’m okay with that.

    • “Seems to me that it disturbs you that many in the military don’t share you point of veiw about the “superiority” of your preferred KC-X platform”

      Nope, not disturbed at all. 😉

      “I don’t remember saying nor implying that, I just said I think its likely as in every major new development program.”

      Joanne, you said with seemingly absolute certainty: “when the delays on A350 start”. With all due respect, that is not the same as “likely”.

      • This is what BA Investor was talking about, Its called “nitpicking” here in the States. But as you can probably tell, I am a Lady who can stand up to the boys. 🙂

      • A good friend of ours is a retired two-star Admiral whose last command was Kings Bay , GA (Trident sub base). His wife followed him all around to billets, as many military wives do. Military wives are a tough bunch. We joke with the two star that his wife is a three-star. He retorts that she’s a five star.

        Jo strikes us as one not to take any s(tuff) from anyone!

      • OV-99,

        I think Airbus is starting to admit delay in A350 first flight and possibly delivery times… You were saying???

      • I would assume that you were talking about delivery delays, and not when start of final assembly and first flight will occur.


        Quote: “The date for the first flight has slipped by three months because of development delays in the aircraft’s structural design, but Airbus is confident it can meet the mid-2013 service entry target for launch customer Qatar Airways by reducing the original 15-month test programme by three months.

        “We’ve got five aircraft in the flight-test programme – which is more than we usually have,” says A350 chief engineer Gordon McConnell.

        He says that the original 15-month plan had been generous – some customers had questioned why it would take Airbus so long – and the airframer has been running projects with its flight-test and engineering teams to devise ways of compressing it.

  26. “I politely asked you very simple questions, you have chosen to go behind your husband’s service record, hence the BS comment.”

    And I politely responded. But since I don’t fly KC-135s or Boeing 777s for a living, I’m an accountant if you must know, I don’t see how you can make any comment about me “going behind” my husbands service record. What reference would you like me to use then? What point of veiw measures up to your, apparently, very high standards? I’m a U.S. taxpayer, and as such, I have more skin in this debate then do many of my European friends who merely see this in commercial terms. This program touches my family directly in many ways – Our pocketbook and how my husband does his, now part time, job. Belittling my opinion doesn’t help your argument.

  27. I would like to add that OV 099 and UK Air are very aggressive in their reponses and challenges. Joanne has identified her experience and point of view quite sincerely but these two commentators seem to take some pleasure in diminishing her positions without explaining where they are coming from and what background brings them to this discussion.

    I am convinced that Ov 099 has a stake in this contest and is as knowledgeable as anyone on the subject. But he abuses others in his understanding and always asserts his points with some arrogance…at least to my ear.

    I know Mr. Hamilton has suggested we refrain from personalizing, but there is something uncharacteristicly assertive about his responses . It does not add to the discussion but makes it more devisive and unpleasant and even provocative.

    I follow alot of blogs and feel I have some sense of the tone of the participants. OV 099 is not the average ommentator

    • You would be surprised how differently aggressive or challenging
      (or not) some posters would sound to your own ears when
      the writer and the topic appear anonymised.
      i.e. same wording applied to a topic you have no emotional
      attachment to.

    • As a result of BA Investor’s observation, we took a look at the posts referred to. While certain responses may be “assertive,” these as yet have not crossed our standards.

      But we appreciate BA’s observation and simply let it serve as a reminder to all to maintain respect to all parties on our board.

  28. BA investor, I’ve noticed that you’ve been resorting to conspiratorial “explanations” lately. That’s your prerogative.

    It’s also your prerogative to “hear” what you hear, but I categorically deny your accusations that I’ve somehow tried to “diminish” her positions, or that I have “taken pleasure” in doing it.

  29. OV 099,

    I think we are both experiencing one of the flaws of the internet. Things are written without tone and there seems to be the everpresent possibility of misunderstanding. This is also a highly emotional subject and it has been going on for far too long so frustration levels have been exacerbated. It has also become like a sport…either pro or con with little middle ground for better understanding

    Yes, I have been trying to briefly explain some of the political input from what I have been told and read. I understand your term “conspiratorial” but there seems to have been alot of reporting and discussion about it and it does not seem implausible. I never said it was the exact TRUTH but some explination of American politics and its possible machinations is really necessary to understand what has been going on.

    It is naive to think that politics has had a minor influence …you can call it whatever term fits better than “conspiratorial” but its input has affected the outcome from day one. It is how the American world works and so many of us try to understand its influence rather than some measurement matrix’s or numerical formula that tries to make it “scientific” and nonpolitical.

    I was rather impressed by Joanne’s sincerity and openness and her desire to post what she knows from her husband and their military friends. I am glad to find out that your intentions were not what I thought and thank you for pointing that out to me .

    I am sure we will be bumping heads again as this contest proceeds. I will put on a helmet and hope you have one too and I will try to be more respectful of your attitude

    • Fair enough BA Investor – you make some good points. Let’s improve our colloquy from here on out.


  30. Jo,
    “And I politely responded”
    By saying “You know more about tanker operations then my husband who has 4800 hours of tanker flying alone?”
    I didn’t claim that. I asked you to explain or expand on several points I picked up in your post.

    “What point of veiw measures up to your, apparently, very high standards?”
    When have I put my point of view above yours?

    “This program touches my family directly in many ways”
    And I have not said anything against that.

    BA I,
    “I would like to add that OV 099 and UK Air are very aggressive in their reponses”
    Can you tell me where I was aggressive? I asked Jo that question but didn’t get an answer…

    “two commentators seem to take some pleasure in diminishing her positions”
    Where have I diminished her point of view or took pleasure from doing so?

    “I am convinced that Ov 099 has a stake in this contest”
    Says somebody whose alias is ‘BA Investor’? That’s a little ironic. Do you think you have a stake also?

    “Joanne has identified her experience and point of view”
    She did, does it mean I cannot ask her a question about that view?

    “… is not the average ommentator”
    Does it matter who is and who isn’t an average commentator? This blog has opinions from different people, does one have to be qualified or not to say what they think?

    From the above post it feels to me that unless one fully agrees with BA I and Jo, they are branded ‘aggressive’ and ‘arrogant’ without further explanation. Ohh well, I guess one shouldn’t be asking too many questions.

    “I am sure we will be bumping heads again as this contest proceeds. I will put on a helmet and hope you have one too and I will try to be more respectful of your attitude”
    I am in full agreement with that.

    Anyway, I am looking forward to learning more details from both Boeing and EADS about their offerings, which should make an interesting comparison on a technical level.

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