Why aren’t they talking about the airplane?

In the previous post, we talk about the WTO issue being pursued by Boeing and its supporters. In this post we ask, “Why aren’t they talking about their airplane?”

This is about the strangest marketing campaign we’ve ever seen, and one of the things we do is marketing. Boeing has a product–but it’s nowhere to be seen in the public relations campaign.

Isn’t the KC-767 worth talking about?

Boeing claims its airplane has more modern technology, uses less fuel, is better sized, is better for the pilot in combat situations, meets all the requirements and generally beats the piss out of the EADS KC-45.

But listening to Sens. Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell (both D-Boeing/WA), Sam Brownback (R-Boeing/KS) and US Reps. Norm Dicks, Rick Larson, Jay Inslee (all D-Boeing/WA) and Todd Tiahrt (R-Boeing/KS), among others, and it seems they’ve never heard of Boeing or the KC-767. It’s All Airbus, All the Time. (A bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point.)

Even Boeing CEO Jim McNerny seems focused more on Airbus than on the attributes of his own airplane.

OK, they’re all worried about the price EADS will offer and that’s why they’re on the subsidy kick. But Airbus has repaid all the loans, with interest, and is now paying royalties on the A330-200 on which the KC-45 is based.

And although the procurement is a price shoot-out, “price” is more than the airplane. It is also life-cycle cost (something Boeing and Rep. Dicks were particularly anxious to have included in the evaluation process) and the infrastruction cost, or MilCon–also boosted by Boeing and its supporters.

If, on the occasions Boeing actually talks about this, you believe what Boeing says, the KC-767 just whips the KC-45 by billions of dollars on life-cycle costs alone and some large number on MilCon. Even if EADS submits a lower airplane cost than Boeing (which may be difficult since the commercial base-line aircraft are tens of millions of dollars apart in Boeing’s favor), the life-cycle and MilCon costs are in Boeing’s favor. So they say. Or aren’t saying, as ther case may be.

Talk about the airplane. That’s what counts for the warfighter. If anybody bothers to remember them.

23 Comments on “Why aren’t they talking about the airplane?

  1. Are you sure at this point that they are bidding the 767?

    • They are bidding the Next Generation 767. Advanced avioncs and a refueling boom very similar to a KC-10A. Boeing has placed ads with this info in Aviation Week. It is also on roadside billboards near at least two AFBs (Scott and McConnell). I’ve seen the ads and the billboards personally.

  2. Well, this is not just about marketing; it is a serious game between two players-in economic terms.
    Boeing is playing this on two levels,as I see it; one, the products, its attributes, value , life cycle costs etc.( with the customer, who makes the final call)
    The other game is on the (political) environment-it is doing everything to fend off its competitor from getting a foothold in USA and the tanker program of Air force.It is leveraging its strengths in the political system ,just like Airbus does on the EU side.
    Politicians can only do what is good for them-in this case, jobs for their constituencies-not talk of products and technology.
    I would say, with out sitting on judgement, Boeing is doing what it thinks, is best for them.

  3. I would submit that before we all wander off into complicated and esoteric explanations about Boeing Marketing strategies or the lack of them.
    We should consider the very basic issue currently haunting Boeing, which was the management decision to farm out production of aircraft to low cost outside facilities, we have all seen the effects on the daily operation of a manufacturing process, carried out in many non-Boeing entities. The 787 Saga for example! I think Boeing is having some heavy infighting on whether to build another aircraft in house, or try to re-launch the idea of using outside “partners”.

  4. Two thoughts. The 767 and A330 are twenty years apart in design. In a side by side the 767 will show its age. In addition Boeing isn’t proposing a 767. The concept they have put forward is a bit of a Frankenstein of parts and technologies.

    Second thought is that they aren’t the same size aircraft and have different mission capabilities. Despite the rehtoric about only looking at the refueling mission, they can do different things. With that on the value side for the A330 and the limited value of comparing a 767’s costs as opposed to what Boeing will actuall bid, there may not be a prima facia case for billions of life cycle cost differences.

  5. “But Airbus has repaid all the loans, with interest, and is now paying royalties on the A330-200 on which the KC-45 is based.”

    The subsidy issue is not about the RLI which gets paid back after a successful program like the A330. The competitive advantage gained from subsidies is at the enterprise level when a program fails and the RLI is never paid back (like the A380).

    Because of RLI, EADS is insulated from a great deal of financial risk each time they develop a new product. This permits them to take greater risks (potentially advancing technology farther than they would otherwise do) and recover faster from the missteps of failed endeavors.

    I’m not sure how business tax incentives and the benefit of publicly funded research given to Boeing can be measured on the same scale as the RLI EADS enjoys… especially when these benefits which Boeing enjoys are extended equally to EADS and Airbus by state and federal governments.

    You can be sure EADS will spin the WTO ruling on Boeing just the same as they have spun the WTO ruling on themselves (i.e. a victory for Airbus). As is always the case with Airbus marketing; the truth is far different than the spin coming out of Toulouse.

    • Funny.
      From my viewpoint the majority spin-doctors are in Boeing
      employ.
      Which probably indicates that both try to “help” bystanders
      to properly access the meaning of those rulings 😉

      Whatever. Afaiks Boeing masterery of the art of
      public image sculpting is quite a bit more advanced
      than Airbus efforts. ( Which may be due to Airbus still
      thinking that facts actually do count, in this context
      completely wrong )
      and you are used to it, you see it with kind eyes
      because it is the home team.

      • No question about it; all corporations go to lengths to shape their public image. To varying degrees, this usually includes some amount of deception. I would not entertain the thought that this only occurs on one side of the Atlantic.

        Fortunately, the WTO is able to deal with tangible items such as state tax relief, training centers built as joint state/private ventures, federally funded research which benefits private industry, and non-commercial lending practices. The latter has already been ruled on and found to be illegal. Airbus claimed this ruling to be in their favor when it clearly was not. That’s the spin from Toulouse I was referring to.

        Do I believe Boeing will claim victory in the WTO ruling on US practices relative to themselves? Probably they will. Do I think Boeing and Airbus spin have any bearing on the real impact of the WTO rulings? None whatsoever. The EU has already approached the US about talks to settle the issues in the WTO report ( http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100511/bs_afp/wtotradedisputeeuusaerospace)

        This is where the spin is no help at all and the real consequences of illegal business practices will be determined.

  6. what is there to talk about – both a/c will comply with all 372 mandatory requirements, non mandatory comes into play only if and when both prices are essentially equal.

    Actual airframe price represents only a portion, probably less than half, of the total evaluated price. Since everything but the proposed per airframe cost is essentially up to DOD subjective choice, the final TEP gate is comfortably within the AF’s grasp. And as you said – the customer has no love for Boeing right now.

    • Correct, airframe cost will represent less than 50 percent. In fact, it will in all likelihood be closer to 40 percent of TEP.

  7. Oh come on guys let’s get realistic here. The 767 and A330 are only about one decade apart in terms of design. The 767 first flew in 1981 and the A330 in 1992. Also, Ikkeman as a mid-level officer with the US military I can assure that you have no idea what the customer is realy thinking and based on personal knowledge I can assure you that your statement that the customer doesn’t have any love for Boeing right now just doesn’t hold water. On the other the perception in the Pentagon that the congress doesn’t want to fund the A330 and therefore we won’t select is quite real.

    • “and therefore we won’t select is quite real.”

      It doesn’t matter which way one may perceive reality in this case. The fact of the matter is that if the A330MRTT complies with the 372 mandatory requirements and if the TEP of EADS-NA is within 101 percent of Boeing’s, then EADS will win. It’s simplistic to believe that somehow Congress won’t fund the KC-45 if EADS is the primary contractor. What we’ve seen so far is a relatively small group of Boeing protagonists from a couple of states making all the fuzz, while the vast majority of Congressmen and Senators are not on record saying much about the matter. This is primarily a regional fight between Washington/Kansas (plus a couple of “supporting” states) vs. Alabama (plus a couple of “supportive” states). Therefore, if EADS prevails, we’ll hear a lot of “noise” from the usual culprits. The best they may then hope for is a split buy as the Administration and the majority in the Congress would realise that an annulment of an EADS KC-45 contract the second time around (to “protect” Washington and Kansas), would in all likelihood have a detrimental impact on US military exports to Europe over the longer term.

      • 1) Yes, both will likely comply if for political reasons than no other.

        2) The perception of the KC-45/KC-30/A330 MRTT (or European Tanker as it is called) being unfundable by members within the DoD is quite real though, I can assure you that much, although I don’t want to go any farther on this. You should also remember General Lichte’s Mea Culpa at the end of the last debacle where he said, “I don’t care which aircraft I get, just give me an aircraft any aircraft.” This was after he clearly said he wanted more, more, more or the bigger aircraft. If someone who wants the biggest and shiniest toy comes out and says he’ll take the smaller one, that usually mean mommy and daddy slapped down his first choice and he’ll take the one mommy and daddy want him to have.

        3) US defense contractors are the most politically astute of all major US corporations, their livelihood depends on it. EADS has a very good shot for example on the Armed Scout Helicopter and lined up Lockheed Martin without any difficulty for a much smaller contract than the KC-X. If the EADS bid really had a good chance (50/50) or even (40/60) they wouldn’t have any difficulty in finding a US partner to replace NG. $40 billion is a lot of change and contracts like the KC-X only come along 2 or 3 times in a decade for an aerospace contractor. So where is EADS US friend? Ender’s said it was a necessity to have a US partner as recently as a few weeks well after EADS decided to go it alone on the KC-X contract. The only logical conclusion is that after looking at EADS chances and the politics every potential partner decided this was a looser. Again you can’t spin this, if EADS bid had a good probability of success US subcontractors would be lining up at their door, the KC-X contract is just too big to ignore.

        4) The DoD specifically told NG in a public letter to stop using the KC-45 moniker as the aircraft was never accepted for production so who is the DoD mad at? And why does EADS continue to ignore the customers stated wishes on this issue.

        5) “while the vast majority of Congressmen and Senators are not on record saying much about the matter.”, This isn’t really true, actually close to on December 18, 2009 125 members or 25% of the US Congress submitted a signed letter to DoD going on record as saying the RLI should be included in the RfP. There has been substantial congressional support for including the RLI and substantial numbers of Congressmen and Senators have gone on the record directly by saying they oppose EADS even participating the KC-X contest. In one letter alone 37 US congressmen opposed EADS participation the contest itself. To be perfectly honest I can’t interpret this information any other way than to say, yes there is substantial congressional opposition to the EADS in this contest. That isn’t an anti-EADS statement it’s simply a statement of fact.

        6) “This is primarily a regional fight between Washington/Kansas (plus a couple of “supporting” states) vs. Alabama (plus a couple of “supportive” states).” There is a some truth to this, but the recently formed Aerospace Caucus in the US Sentate is a who’s who of anti-EADS senators (Patty Murray, Sam Brownback and the usual gang, 22 of them in all) says this is a little more than just a regional fight. That’s 22 Senators who have publically come out and said support US aerospace and US aerospace companies in their public declaration for the Aerospace Caucus, 1/5th of the Senate is a lot bigger than just a regional block. Heck even John McCain has publically said it would be fine with him if Boeing was the only bidder. 22 vs. the 2 senators from the minority party and Alabama is hardly an equal contest. The formation of the Aerospace caucus just months before the KC-X decision is not a political accident.

        7) “The best they may then hope for is a split buy as the Administration and the majority in the Congress would realise that an annulment of an EADS KC-45 contract the second time around (to “protect” Washington and Kansas), would in all likelihood have a detrimental impact on US military exports to Europe over the longer term.” Yes if the scenario you described actually happened there would be an effect. This is why I made the statement that the RLI issue is political move and not an attempt to put into effect an actual law. France routinely discriminates against foreign products yet it hasn’t hurt them to badly in the export market. So while an actual law such as the RLI law probably would have a fairly large effect in that it provides a written quantifiable target, politics in Defense procurement is par for the course as everyone does it and no one really has the moral high ground to complain about it when it happens. After all if this isn’t the case why is Brazil talking about purchasing the #3 Rafale fighter in it’s recent fighter contest instead of the #1 Grippen or #2 Hornet as determined by it’s Air Force.

        Look OV-099 I respect your opinion a great deal, but come on you guys need to get realistic about the politics and relative strengths of the bidders here. Things don’t look good at all for EADS in this thing politically and Boeing not releasing their detailed information so far is easily explainable as a political strategy. In US politics the ideal strategy to pass legislation is one that gives the opposing side as little time as possible to read the legislation and determine and exact attack strategy (24 hours in many cases). After all why did the GOP keep wanting to delay the recent health care bill and kept asking for a line by line reading of every provision in the bill? It was because they were looking for specific provisions to attack. This is just how US politics works, never give your opponent the time to develop a specific response to your strategy, Boeing is simply following a time tested political strategy here nothing more.

      • OV,
        What either proposal will cost is completely within AF hands. If the officers actually working on this contract can’t weight the TEP a few percent either way, they’re not worth their salaries.
        I think they are worth theirs, therefore the AF will be the only deciding factor between both proposals.

        John:
        2) If Eurotanker is unfundable, and frankentanker is not, then why did EADS/NG win last time around?
        Are you saying you see congress and the senate as mommy and daddy to the USAF?

        3) Then Again, EADS will have to beat the costs of a proposal based on a 30% cheaper airframe with associated lower operating costs… US defense contractors are also the most financially astute players. EADS will have to cut this one to the bone to even come close to being competitive. That may have something to do with the lackluster enthusiasm from possible US fronts.

        4) the USAF specifically told EADS to get back into the game to make it an competition – apparently… do you have a link for that letter?

        5) So there’s a substantial body of support for including the WTO in the RFP. And the DoD/USAF don’t like the Eurotanker. Why wasn’t it included. Why did the USAF invite EADS back. Why even a competition. Why waste millions and go through a sham.

        7) and how many rafale export customers are there? how many for F35
        Yes, the french practice the abominable protection scam – But I always thought you should only join “them” AFTER you find you can’t beat them. Are you saying the United States should take their defense policy example?

        Yes, EADS doesn’t stand a chance, the RFP is Boeing’s for the loosing. But then Why are they pulling this trick. The USAF has repeatedly stated in no uncertain term that no WTO ruling would be included in their acquisition programs. Period.
        When Boeing is as confident of winning as I think they should be, Why are they annoying their future partner?

  8. To: CM on May 13, 2010 at 10:53 am

    “Talks offered”
    “talks” has been the European position all along.
    The offer has been renewed.

    “WTO ruling, who’s the winner?”
    All I could make of the published information is that
    RLI as an instrument is not faulted while details like rates are to a ?small? degree.
    The much more interesting point is that _no_ detrimental effects on Boeing business could be shown and retaliation was denied.
    ( Thats why the “WTO” tag is used for overblown blustering on the national “inside” front and nowhere else.
    Derived fact from this is that Boeings problems are selfmade or a result from national issues.
    ( Myopic focus on quarterly results, bad workforce relations, overreliance on “strategic communications” comes to my mind )

    This finds a sibling in the hilarious allegations on illegal VAT subsidising ( as told here by the “Don” ).
    Guidance for senators, but narry a word in international waters.

    Telling for any WTO ruling will be if retaliation is allowed ( indicating factual damage ).

    If not it is nothing more than unsubstantiated denunciation used in political posturing.

  9. “2) If Eurotanker is unfundable, and frankentanker is not, then why did EADS/NG win last time around?
    Are you saying you see congress and the senate as mommy and daddy to the USAF?”

    The simple fact is that the stars as they say lined up last time for the NG/EADS bid. You had NG fronting the bid. You had a Republican administration in the White House that looked favorably on outsourcing and on the Republican base in the Deep South (Alabama). You had very active political pressure in favor of NG/EADS from the Senate in the form of John McCain who was arguably the most influential Senator period then, and in the form of EADS N.A. new board member General Lichte (formerly the commander of the Air Mobility Command) you had some very EADS friendly people running the competition itself. Additionally, the Druyun affair had recently been settled and was still fresh in everyone’s mind, unemployment in the US was closer to 5 percent than 10 percent, and you also had a rather arrogant and error prone competitor in the shape of Boeing in 2007/2008 who assumed that after 50 years they would get the contract by birthright and submitted what can easily be called a sub-optimal bid. The fact is that every one of those factors has been reversed and are for the most part working against EADS or at least aren’t working for them.

    Additionally, why didn’t the last administration just didn’t fix the RfP from the last contest and use the original bid data to select a winner, like they wanted too? The fact they completely caved means exactly what I said, the KC-30 lacked the political support in Congress to have the fix go through the process and then have Congress fund it. I am not saying that the EADS bid is doomed or 100 percent unfundable. I am saying that slope is very steep and Boeing is heavily favored by the rules, politics and personalities involved in this round. If EADS did win which is in mind a very low probability I really think something like a split by would be needed to get the KC-30 funded.

    And finally, of course the Congress is the USAF’s mommy and daddy, they write all of the checks. Any one involved in acquisitions knows who sets the rules and provides the money.

    3) Then Again, EADS will have to beat the costs of a proposal based on a 30% cheaper airframe with associated lower operating costs…

    I would agree with you here, but I don’t think the actual cost difference is anywhere near 30%. The only real actual info we have from the last contest.

    a) The adjusted price for the KC-767 was reported as being $15 million greater than the KC-30.
    b) The actual price offered was reported as being $10 million less for the KC-767 than the KC-30 once the GAO stripped out the cost adjustments the USAF made to each bid.

    4) the USAF specifically told EADS to get back into the game to make it an competition – apparently… do you have a link for that letter?

    The USAF publically asked EADS to get back in the game through a press conference just as they announced the extension through a press conference and release. I’m not sure they sent them a public letter addressed to EADS specifically and asking them to enter the completion. For contest like this the DoD publishes a notice of a competition in the Federal Register notifying prospective bidders of their intent. The official RfP will follow after they announce their intent, but there is no formal invitation process to bid.

    5) So there’s a substantial body of support for including the WTO in the RFP. And the DoD/USAF don’t like the Eurotanker. Why wasn’t it included. Why did the USAF invite EADS back. Why even a competition. Why waste millions and go through a sham.

    Oh believe me the US Military can waste millions very easily I’ve seen it. There are multiple levels of politics in this one, it just comes down to this; from the perspective of DoD and the White House they want EADS in (maybe it has to do with US/EU relations or maybe not). From the perspective of at least 25% of the elected representatives in the US Congress, they would like EADS out. Who’s right I don’t know but things like this are noticed among the acquisition community at the Pentagon. It’s no use pretending that this contest has anything at all to do with the previous round it doesn’t, all of the rules and for the most part the players are different.

    “7) and how many rafale export customers are there? how many for F35
    Yes, the french practice the abominable protection scam – But I always thought you should only join “them” AFTER you find you can’t beat them. Are you saying the United States should take their defense policy example?”

    Actually until about 10 years ago the US was pretty much a closed market for major systems. Even 15 years ago it is doubtful the US would have even purchased the UH-72 Lakota from EADS. The fact that for the first time in a very long time, well first time ever a contract of this size and scope was awarded to a foreign producer and this is why this whole contest is so controversial. You have to remember the old system made the US the number 1 producer in the world and in order to shift to a new free trade in weapons model some more tangible benefits and reasons other than free trade in weapons is good will need to be provided to get people to buy into what is a new Cold War paradigm for the industry. Also, France has the largest and most capable weapons industry in Europe, the Rafale hasn’t been very successful but the overall French Industry has.

    What trick? Has EADS released their specific data on their tanker? No, they haven’t released anything other than to admit it will be more or less exactly like the Australian KC-30. The only difference is that since EADS data was released for the previous contest, I can go to Google or even Wiki and look up their numbers, but EADS certainly hasn’t said anything about what about their tanker can actually due with respect to this contest. I can Google the KC-767AT as well, and get all of its info, just like I can for EADS entry. The difference being though, that Boeing is not offering the KC-767AT.

    So ask yourself this why are both contractors behaving exactly the same? Providing generalities at this point but not releasing specific data about their respective bids? Could it be US politics works exactly like I said, don’t release the specifics until the last minute? Just look at Obama’s current nominee for the US Supreme Court and try to figure where she actually stands on any issue.

  10. John, the DoD is a pretty big place. It’s not surprising that some “members” within the DoD not involved with the KC-X programme might choose to believe that an A330MRTT based KC-45 would be “unfundable” thanks to the current barrage of misinformation, lies, distortion of facts, veiled threats (etc.) coming from Boeing and its highly vocal protagonists (Tricky Dicks & Co). However, the folks in the loop at the KC-X programme office at Wright Patterson AFB, as well as the top Pentagon brass, are perfectly aware of the fact that this latest hanky panky is largely a hollow threat, and as such these DoD “members” (who are in the loop) can easily call the bluff from the Washington and Kansas congressional delegations.

    Funny enough, according to DefenseNews, Boeing may not even bid for the KC-X:

    http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=4627333&c=AIR&s=TOP

    Quote:

    “”Jim doesn’t want to be in a position that we are going to bid a losing bid,” the Boeing executive said. “It gets difficult when you’re dealing with a competitor who has flat-out said on several occasions that they’re going to underbid us. How can they do that if the list price of their plane is higher than the list on our plane? Because they are subsidized and we’re a for-profit company, so the question we’re asking is: How do we compete against four governments?”

    As for the list price, I’ve previously pointed out that it’s a relatively meaningless metric. What matter is the production costs which are only about 10 percent higher for the A332 than for the 767-200. In the Total Evaluated Price (TEP), green frame costs should account for around 40 percent, which means that the cost differential in production costs will only account for some 4 percent of the TEP.

    As I’ve repeatedly indicated, because the A330MRTT based KC-X offering is 80-90 percent “complete”, and the KC-767 is not (less “complete”), then EADS should quite easily be able to present a price competitive offer to the Air Force.

    Finally, it’s interesting to note that as Boeing is continuing to harp on about how they supposedly are a for-profit company while EADS is “subsidised; they certainly seem to have “listened” to what the propagandaminister in the third reich once said, that is if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

  11. OV-99,

    “As I’ve repeatedly indicated, because the A330MRTT based KC-X offering is 80-90 percent “complete”, and the KC-767 is not (less “complete”), then EADS should quite easily be able to present a price competitive offer to the Air Force. ”

    Ahh, I think you’ve hit the crux of what much of this is about. If you look at the last contest the NG/EADS offering won largely because of the Engineering Risk Evaluation conducted by the USAF. As mentioned before the USAF added $5.1bn to Boeing’s lifecycle costs vs. only about $700 million to NG/EADS, thus allowing NG/EADS to win the MPLCC analysis which was 20% of scoring total. In additional the AF increased the KC-767AT’s projected fuel burn, and also reduced its projected max fuel load from 220,000+ lbs that Boeing designed the plane for to 200,000+ lbs (less mature design again). These moves would significantly affect Boeing’s IFARA score as well as the lifecycle costs giving EADS yet more points in another critical area. In sum the Air Force Risk evaluation weighed against Boeing in virtually all areas of the competition.

    That said both sides will engage in an intense lobbying campaign to affect the informal process the Air Force will use this time. BTW, thank you to Scott for running an article on the EN notification process which is the real wild card in this process. As you indirectly pointed out NG/EADS gained a large amount of credit last time due to the risk evaluation. So you will see a major push by EADS emphasizing the additional risk of the less mature Boeing design, which can be translated as USAF you need to adjust Boeing’s price to reflect this fact. In terms of Boeing you will see a lot of talk about the WTO ruling, price dumping (which Jim Allbaugh just commented in the, we may not compete quote) and EADS risk factors such as industrialization of the product and past performance (e.g. can EADS N.A. really do the job in particular the classified stuff). Boeing’s line can be translated as you need to adjust EADS price for these factors, and don’t even think about major adjustments to our price or you are going to have include adjustments for the A330 RLI.

    The Evaluation Notification Process (EN) process is the one major wildcard in the process and both sides are making a concerted effort to influence it and will continue to focus on influencing this factor until the USAF makes the award in November. After all both of their bids are basically complete at this point or at least they know exactly what features they will be offering, there’s not much they can do to change what they are going to submit except for the final offering price. There is quite a bit they can do though in terms of trying to influence the EN process and any potential USAF adjustments to theirs or their opponent’s bid prices.

    About the Air Force:

    There is an old saying in the defense procurement business about the 3 D’s that goes back to the 1960’s. It goes something like this, The Army is Dumb, The Navy is Defiant, and the Air Force is Devious (or at least that was the saying when my father was there in the 1970s). There is some truth here in that in general the Navy tends to lay out it’s specifications for equipment and dare congress to change them (e.g. we need a really big Aircraft Carrier and we dare you to make us get anything else). However, the AF is easily the most political of all services in how they go about the procurement business. Look at the games they played to get the F-22, everything from claiming they would have to redesign the F-35 and ruin that program if they didn’t get it, to their efforts to sabotage an potential upgrades of current technology to meet the requirements. Saying the Air Force doesn’t follow politics is not borne out by looking at their past actions.

    • John, you shouldn’t have mentioned the F-35. 😉

      In my opinion it’s an incredibly flawed programme. Additionally, it’s got a big bulky airframe optimised for air to ground operations.

      If you one wants to make a joint strike fighter, in my opinion one should go for four different airframe configurations, one set of engines (or alternatively, with a competing engine offering), and one common cockpit lay-out (with one and two seat configurations), as wel as maximum Airbus style structure and systems commonality:

      1) Twin engine F-22/Eurofighter/Rafale/SU-27/F-15 type air superiority fighter (6th generation). Carrier capable as well. Internal weapons bays only for air-to-air missiles. Air-to-ground munitions should only be mounted externally on body and wing hardpoints since the airframe should be optimised for air-to-air operations.

      2) Single engine F-16/Gripen type air superiority fighter (6th generation). Internal weapons bays only for air-to-air missiles. Air-to-ground munitions should only be mounted externally on body and wing hardpoints since the airframe should be optimised for air-to-air operations.

      3) Single engine AV-8B (Harrier)/X-32 STOVL type close air support fighter with high mounted delta wing with no F-35B-type stupendously heavy lift fan.

      4) Single engine Dassault nEUROn/Northrop Grumman X47B type Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) with internal weapons bays optimised to carry air-to-ground munitions.

      As for the Evaluation Notification Process (EN), you’ve presented quite a good analysis although I don’t agree your IFARA interpretation. However, we’ve been through this several times already, so let’s just agree to disagree. 🙂

      • The F-35 probably tried to do to much, e.g. I think adding building the STOVL and Naval and Air Force versions of the same air frame was a bridge to far. It could still prove to be a good aircraft though provided the US DoD is willing to absorb the $9 billiion or so in development overruns and not try to spread the cost out in the production run of the aircraft. I don’t this is any different for A400M. It can still be a very good and successful aircraft but in order for it to be successful the nations supporting it should be absorbing the $5 billion or so in cost overruns up front, not trying to spread the costs out in the production phase or even trying to foist most of the overuns on EADS who will be forced to raise export prices to make up the difference. We’ll see what happens with the F-35, but for it to be successful the DoD will need to write some very big checks in the next couple of years, probably why they decided the F-22 had to go.

        My main point on the IFARA is not that Boeing would necessarily win (although I did say this was a possiblity, just not necissarily a high one), but that that they would close the gap. Under the old scoring formula NG/EADS got a price adjustment equivalent to 22 air frames, or around $4 billion US using the $184 initial offering price. if Boeing could have cut the IFARA adjustment in half that would have made a considerable difference. Similary using the current formula closing the IFARA gap by half would reduce the EADS advantage from a $2bn credit to a $1bn credit (equivalent in cost to around 5 airframes so nothing to sneeze at). I think this is Boeing’s real goal and the reason they are throwing in Scott’s words a petard.

        We all have our favorite producers and aircraft and I don’t make any bones that I think the 767 is the better choice, but in all honesty neither aircraft is really competing with each other. In reality two spreadsheets (and I do mean spreadsheets, the inputs are that simple) representing each aircraft are competing. The winner will be chosen by what inputs go on to each spreadsheet and the USAF still has a big role as the gatekeeper in terms of what the final input numbers they will allow for the contest are. There will I’m sure be a lot of fun discussions in the future on what they should allow in terms inputs once each bidder delivers their proposals in a little over a month.

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