Tit for tat on KC-X

Stephen Trimble of Flight Global has EADS’ opening shot on talking point in Congress. It is brutally frank and takes off the gloves often kept on by Northrop Grumman in the KC-X competition.

We’ve seen–but do not yet have–Boeing’s resp0nse. We’ll post it when obtained.

Update: Boeing’s response is after the jump:


Dear ________,

As you may know, the U.S.-based Boeing Company and the European Aeronautic Space and Defense Company (EADS), are in the process of responding to a proposal from the United States Defense Department for new tanker aircraft for the Air Force.  Yesterday EADS sent Members of Congress information on the KC-X tanker program — a key national security program of the United States — that is false and misleading.  This is just the latest in a long line of attempts by Airbus and EADS to distort the truth and muddy the waters.  The United States Government recently won a case before the World Trade Organization (WTO) that highlighted the billions of dollars in European government subsidies received by EADS and Airbus to develop their commercial aircraft business, with the WTO finding that these subsidies were illegal under international law.  Airbus and EADS have tried to spin an overwhelming United States win in the WTO subsidy case as a loss.  Wrong.  They have claimed that their European designed and manufactured airplane would generate more American jobs than a Boeing airplane manufactured here in the United States.  False.  Their most recent propaganda states that their offering for KC-X is ready today.  Their website says that their KC-X entrant is flying today.  That is just not true.  The tanker that EADS is building for Australia does not meet all of the 372 Air Force requirements for KC-X.  I hope they do offer this airplane, because it cannot win the competition!  Attached you will find some questions that ought to be asked about the Airbus tanker and its ability to meet the Air Force requirements.

Let’s get real on what the two competitors bring to the table for KC-X.  Boeing has been in the tanker business for over 50 years.  Our NewGen tanker will be tailored to meet all 372 KC-X requirements, providing our men and women in uniform the most combat capable and cost effective airplane.  I encourage you to ignore the smoke screen that EADS and Airbus continue to put up.  The real facts in this case speak for themselves.

Sincerely,

Tim Keating

Attached Message:
Let’s Get Real

*       Airbus is advertising that their European designed and built tanker is “Ready for America Today” and “Ready Now” for the U.S. Air Force.

*       Taking even a cursory look at Airbus’s current A330 tanker being built for Australia and just some of the U.S. Air Force’s unclassified KC-X Tanker requirements (and there are plenty of classified requirements too) raises questions as to the truth of Airbus marketing claims.

*       If Airbus’s tanker is “Ready Now,” does it currently meet Air Force requirements on:

*       A freighter floor?
1       A cargo door?
2       Capabilities necessary to carry hazardous cargo on the main deck?
3       A moveable smoke/fume barrier in the cargo compartment?
4       A centerline hose refueling system?
5       The required hose jettison capability?
6       Duplicate displays and a third seat at the aerial refueling operator’s station?
7       The required quick start and take off capabilities?
8       Certified non-ozone depleting substance fire suppression system?
9       The required on-board inert gas generation system for fuel tank explosion protection?
10      Large aircraft infrared countermeasure system with 3 turrets and ability to handle simultaneous engagements?
11      An armored cockpit to improve crew safety and survivability?
12      Ballistic protection of flight critical aircraft systems?
13      Electromagnetic pulse protection of flight and aerial refueling critical systems?
14      Integrated threat avoidance systems?
15      Ability to meet stated requirements pertaining to a chemical or biological environment?
16      Flight deck display interfaces with aircraft defensive systems?

*       The above is a short list of questions addressing only a handful of the Air Force’s unclassified tanker requirements.  The list of 372 unclassified and classified Air Force requirements is much longer.

*       If Airbus’s answer to any of the above questions is NO, then the Airbus tanker is not “Ready Now” for either the Air Force or the Nation.

*       If Airbus’s answer to most or all of the above questions is NO, it means they have several years of investment (subsidized?), design and development work, flight testing and certifications before their tanker is “Ready” or “Proven.”

*       If Airbus’s answer to most or all of the above questions is NO, then Airbus has decided to continue its four year campaign of misinformation intended to hide the fact that the European company is new to the aerial refueling tanker business and does not have a tanker that meets Air Force requirements.

*       So, Let’s Get Real – Maybe someone should ask Airbus to answer each of the above questions with a simple YES or NO…

13 Comments on “Tit for tat on KC-X

  1. Could their new board member (General Lichte) have anything to do with this document?

    It is amasing how much effort both companies are putting into points that aren’t relevant to the competition (# of jobs created, WTO etc.).

    Of course, those points are only for the politicians, who will decide who gets the contract.

    Maybe the Pentagon should have just put out an RFP which merely states, “Congress shall decide who receives this contract”.

  2. So it was EADSs restraining influence that kept
    the discussion moderately civil up to now? 😉

    Interesting times coming up, then.

    Question on the side:
    Did Boeing build any tankers after the KC135
    50 years ago?

  3. let us move away from this “name calling” from both sides; It was EADS which started it in the first place.
    Let the customer, decide which of the two offerings they want and that is the way to go.
    Can the two big guys compete without maligning the other’s offering?
    Grow up EADS and let your offering do the talking, not your sales team; the same goes to Boeing too.
    sethuraman

  4. Oh Dear, how sad can a response become, I think I know which airframe is the closest to fulfilling the US IFR demands with the more timely EIS

    A need to return to thinking with their heads, not hearts.

  5. In response to the EADS claim they can build military aircraft anywhere in the world, Boeing should simply put a picture of the A400M up as a response.

    Years late, $Billions over budget, heavily subsidized, not yet in service. A complete technical, budget, schedule and political fiasco.

    Now that’s a “we can build military planes” claim by EADS that Boeing can use to their advantage.

    • Where should Boeing hang it?

      On the side where the B787 picture hangs or the opposite side
      right along the pics for the Osprey, KC767AT and the Wedgetail?

    • Fred,
      I read “We have the industrial know-how to build tankers anywhere in the world” comment differently. I think what they wanted to say is that they have 3 FALs in 3 different countries, which proves that they have logistical system in place, training and support. In the last round Boeing has been emphasizing that the Alabama facility is not built and the workers are not trained (and who can for get the comment about the Alabamians and tricycles…).

      It is clear that both manufacturers messed up, civil as well as military programmes. Singling out a particular one on the Airbus side, trying to show some sort of trend is not going to advance this debate further…

  6. Both contractors have their fair share of past performance issues, but it must be remembered that the bid is being made by EADS North America not EADS itself. Bragging about the UH-72A, which is nothing more than a civilian helicopter with green paint on it in terms of past performance is hardly confidence inspiring or even a relevant gauge of past performance with respect to this contract. Some of EADS comments can be taken as having some validity such as the fact that Boeing will need more work on its boom. But when it comes to past performance EADS N.A. doesn’t have a record to run on and citing the UH-72A only opens them up to ridicule. Additionally, their parent company’s record on large military aircraft projects, A400M and the A330 MRTT isn’t much to brag about either.

    Using the criteria of past performance in the last three years EADS NA is 0 for 0, and EADS itself is 0 for 2. Boeing while having some failures also has some notably well performing programs over the last 3 years such as the P-8A, C-17, and F/A-18 Super Hornet. EADS NA and EADS simply can’t make similar claims.

    • “EADS NA and EADS simply can’t make similar claims.”

      If you are arguing from the limited scope of the US “inside”
      you are probably right.
      But the US market is contracting and semi closed.

      If you look at EADS in European and/or Global scope though ….

      • Good point, the question I always raise is how does the USAF look at it in terms of the RfP. Given that EADS N.A. is the one making the bid, I believe EADS N.A. is the one that will be judged for past performance. In that area they simply don’t have much of a record.

        Also, it should be noted the global defense market has greatly contracted since the end of the cold war. Russian companies can no longer finance new programs on their own and must turn to international partners, without Indian participation in the 5th generation Russian fighter (the PAK FA), the program simply won’t happen. and even with India the program is seriously in doubt. The same can be said of the European market, where once you had a great many European airframers EADS is pretty much the only producer in Europe that can build a complicated program such as the KC-X or A400M by itself.

        Despite a contracting defense market, it should be noted that the US accounts for close to half of all global defense spending today. Given contracting markets just about everywhere, with the exception of China which is really closed it easy to see why the KC-X program is so important to both Boeing and EADS. Boeing has told Leeham that they would be out of the aerial refueling market for 40 years if they loose this contract. The same can be said of EADS in that many of their defense business lines such as the A330 MRTT will have very short and unprofitable lives without a presence in the US market. Once KC-X is over you can expect a similar fight over the A400M, EADS needs the US market as much as Boeing and Lockheed do and will heavily push the A400M, since without a USAF buy there is little chance of the program being profitable.

    • C-17?! Is there a new C-17 program? Because the only C-17 I know of was designed over 20 years ago.
      Since we are on that topic (military cargo aircraft that did not do so well), that programs performance did not look so dissimilar to the A400. From Wikipedia, “A January 1995 GAO report revealed that while the original C-17 budget was US$41.8 billion for 210 aircraft, the 120 aircraft already ordered at that point had already cost US$39.5 billion.” That is, I believe, almost double the cost. Not really something that should be bandied about as a success story.
      Only now, with congress continually ordering and buying these aircraft for the Air Force, does it look like something of a success.

  7. BREAKING NEWS:
    United + Continental Airlines agree on merger !

    United Airlines and Continental Airlines have agreed to a $3.2 billion merger that will create the world’s biggest airline.
    The merged companies would have 7 percent of global market share, ahead of Delta Airlines, the current market leader with 6 percent.

    United shareholders will own about 55 percent of the combined company, sources familiar with the situation said on Sunday.

    Annual cost savings and new revenues should reach $1 billion to $1.2 billion by 2013, the sources say.

    As United Airlines is the leading part in the merger and the newly created airline will be named United Airlines, it most probabely will continue with the current United Airlines policy of renewing their whole ageing Boeing fleet with Airbus aircraft, too.

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