Dictionary and the KC-45

We love clever ads.

Here is the PDF. KC-X_Dictionary

Below the jump is EADS’ ad that appeared yesterday.

Here is the PDF: EADS KC45JuneAd.

Update, June 18:

As long as we are on the subject of ads, there is this 1999 advertisement from British Petroleum:

72 Comments on “Dictionary and the KC-45

  1. I agree, and I love it. To bad the USAF won’t believe it, but the Congress will.

  2. What good does this do for for Boeing? Other than provide some entertainment value for pundits, is the expectation that there will be a groundswell of support that will influence the actual decision-maker – the Air Force? I wish Boeing would spend its money on perfecting their bid…

  3. Comes out of the marketing budget, I am sure. It’s a good one.

  4. a new language is needed along with the dictionary

    call it EADSspeak AKA smoke and mirrors

    pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

    • No we aren’t. Don … Don .. !
      where are you Don?

      mirrors, smoke and varnish?


  5. Note how BA is saving money by publishing a one page dictionary – grit unknown, but with glossy paper making it useless for EADS employees

    • what’s more, they manage to print 90000 entries on that one page…

  6. An interesting A&M storyboard that Boeing have got right in the use of the word “MORE” to illustrate the advantage EADS has.

    You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to idenify Boeings translation is correct in as much that the inherant mission & performance benefits the KC-45 offers over the KC-30 are what Boeing see as negative points that their aircraft can’t match.

    The USAF saw these as extraordinary benefits when at the last competition it threw Boings tanker in the dustbin, simply describing the KC-45 as More, More More.

    Other than Boeing adding some unnecessary embroidery to lift its aircrafts image out of the antique shop nothing has really has changed, other than Boeings PR dept driving the political naivety in interfering with a critical defence selection process.

    • Phil, do you really believe anything you wrote? Boeing is right in every point in their ad. EADS is lying in ever point in their ad. The EADS offer for the USAF is not the RAAF airplane they show or are testing. EADS has a ‘paper airplane’ too.

      The USAF chose the NG/EADS offer in 2008 only after they violated their own rules. Even then the total cost between the then KC-30 and KC-767NG was only $34M over 25 years.

      The USAF got caught by the GAO, then the SecDef took them to the wood shed.

      This year’s contest requires a 40 year projected life. This year’s contest is over the total adjusted price over those 40 years, the lowest price wins. That means EADS has to undercut Boeing’s price by at least $50M per airplane just to compete with the LCC, fuel, and infastructure costs (an average of $1.25M costs per airplane per year over a 40 year life is not that unreasonable). But the government auditors will not allow EADS to bid at a loss per airplane. If Boeing bids in the $175M-$180M range for their KC-767NG, do you really think EADS will bid in the $125M-$130M range? I don’t think they can do that.

      • Not all Boeing’s claims are true – More efficient is debatable, the IFARA takes care of that debate.
        It wasn’t more affordable last time around. The GAO Did not comment on any technical point, but only found procedural flaws. The cost estimates were not unreasonable, and EADS/NG came in at roughly the same price point as Boeing.
        More survivable… what bull-excrement. Why ? FBW:F22 Plastic:787
        In fact it’s only their claims made about the other side that are absolutely true.

        On the other hand EADS’s claims are not “just” lies: The EADS Fuel system (most important part of any tanker?) has passed these marks. The RAAF is at least based on the same type as their US offer – not so for Jap/Ita and US.
        In fact, after adding armor to the cockpit and the 33F Cargo door, all structural differences between the RAAF and US tankers are pretty much covered.

        Finally, If Boeing’s offer comes in at $180M, that’s $20M less than last time around (10% or $3.5B for 179 a/c). EADS will have served it’s purpose and the AF/taxpayer should be happy.

      • No ikkeman, you are not correct. The GAO said in 2008 the Boeing offer was some $10M less per airplane than NG/EADS. In April when NG pulled out, they said their 2008 offered adjusted price was about $184M per airplane, and that price did not include the depot support the USAF wanted (but apparently screwed up). That means the ‘adjusted’ price per unit for the 2008 KC-767AT, by the USAF, was actually lower because the USAF did not accept Boeing’s production costs for their airplane, while they fully accepted NG/EADS’s production costs per unit. The USAF added in their own price per unit production costs for Boeing.

        The IFARA adjustments in 2008 were a big part of why Boeing’s protest was sustained by the GAO. Those adjustments will be closely looked at this year to make sure the USAF finally gets it right.

        I laid out a good estimate cost of about $1.25M spread over 40 years to cover the estimated LCC, fuel, MilCon, etc. costs per airplane. That totals about $50M must be added for both offers, which will actually be much higher for EADS than Boeing. That is not an unreasonable assumption.

        The public information from Airbus for the price of an A-330-200 is as low as $190M each. The public information for the price of a B-767-200ER is as high as $120M each. Each is in USD. That is a spread of $70M per basic airplane and the tanker conversion costs will be on top of those prices, as will be the USAF price adjustments. Yes, EADS can offer a significantly lower price, but so can Boeing. The initial contract will be a fixed price, something neither OEM likes. But in past fixed price contracts Boeing has honored the contract, and paid penilties for that, EADS simply tore up the fixed price contract and is now demanding higher prices from its A-400 customers.

        So, who serves the tax payers better?

        As far as survivability goes, Boeing talks about it while EADS is silent. The War Fighter wants to know as much about this one part as they can. Your claim that it is BS does not hold water. It is your opinion, which you are entitled to, but that does not make your beliefs true.

        EADS has to add more than just an armored cockpit and cargo door to their offer. They also need a true cargo floor, smart tanker technology, a centerline drogue (the RAAF version does not have one), and several other features required by the RFP. Boeing claims they already have designed all of this into the KC-767NG. EADS only has said they “already meet 80%-90% of the RFP. But does their RAAF KC-30 really meet that much of the 372 RFP requirements?

  7. I don’t think that Boeing advert is smart.
    The difference of font will make a lot think that yes, EADS will deliver more.

    Then they should not use the same ‘more’ qualificative for them, confusing message.

    On the other end, the EADS ad is much smarter. Even if totally untrue, they are comparing figures to a NIL for Boeing (which is true!).

    Very hard to beat this!

    Boeing should get better teams on this battle.

  8. Of course the Boeing ad is smart, it lays out Boeing’s talking points very well. Boeing’s whole point is that our tanker is the right size for the mission and it costs less to own and operate than the competition. This is exactly what Boeing wants to use to sell the plane to the congress and the USAF. It would of course be nice if Boeing would lay out some more specifics about the 767NG and how it specifically stacks up against the EADS KC-45, but we’ll just need to wait until July for Boeing to come clean.

    Likewise I’m not going to take too much of a swipe at EADS. They are trying to sell that the RAAF KC-30 is closer to the USAF specs (with regards to the boom and performance) than the Italian KC-767 or the the Japanese KC-767. I think they could be a little more honest in noting that the KC-30 for the RAAF will still need some missing items like an armored cockpit, strengthened main deck, centerline drogue and some other things, but the ad makes their point just as Boeing’s add makes their’s.

  9. IMHO FF2 has made a very salient observation.

    Advertising in general today does not work on
    facts but on pushing certain meme in a mostly
    subliminal way.

    In that respect I would judge the Boeing advert
    as “on target”, it will do its work under the surface.

    In contrast the EADS advert has all its payload on
    the surface.

  10. Whether the Boeing ad is effective depends on who they are targetting it at. I can’t imagine it’s going to sway any decision makers. But I agree it’s a clever ad.

    The EADS ad looks like something I might cobble together – and that’s not a compliment. But it does have something that’s potentially powerful: the photo. This is what you’re going to buy. They could do a lot more with it.

  11. Neither offered tanker will be decided on by the USAF because of these ads. It is what each OEM will submit as a response to the RFP that counts.

    Boeing and EADS are keeping very quite on their offers. Neither wants to show their ‘hand’ to the other. Until all of us see all the information on complience with the RFP and pricing none of really knows anything about either tanker offer.

  12. don’t make the mistake of thinking the USAF has any say in the decision to make.

    They can choose anything they want as long as it’s the Boeing offer. Dicks made that very clear.

  13. Well hopefully Airbus will get the centreline drogue right for the RAF!
    Is the Strengthened floor the same as on the A330F?

  14. Yes, the RAF tanker will have a centerline drogue and the RAAF tanker will not. That is testing EADS will have to do for the RAF. But the RAF tanker does not have a boom and thus a different airflow around the bottom of the empennage than if it had a boom.

    The floor on the RAAF tanker is not strengthned like the one in the A-330F. I am not sure any of the A-330MRTTs will have the A-330F floor. But building one into an offer to the USAF is not difficult, since those airplanes are not built. I do not know if EADS plans on offering the A-330F or A-330 pax version as the basic airframe, none of us know either. But whatever version EADS offers, it has to have a cargo floor and door. It would make sense for EADS to offer their A-330F version, even with the “leveling” nose gear, and under fuselage hump.

    But we do know Boeing is offering a “F” version of some type of the B-767-200ER, with a cargo floor and door. Boeing has claimed the airline seat kit and aero-medical kit for the C-17 will also fit their KC-767NG. EADS cannot make that offer.

  15. Hmmmm. Aside from the ‘Buy US’ meme, quite clearly the Borg are still structuring their campaign around two key strategies:
    1. Try to frame capability comparisons in terms of individual airframes instead of total fleet capability (ie deflecting discussion away from how we could probably buy fewer # of EADS airframes to meet requirements)
    2. ‘We know how to build tankers’. Heh as if there was such a thing as institutional memory. All the people who designed and built the last tanker are dead or retired (with McDonnell pensions no less). By their logic, I still have a 28″ waist and can bench 400 lbs.

    While EADS ad is factually correct, Boeing’s ad is accurate at least as of today: Boeing’s Vaporware weighs less than real hardware, burns no fuel, and costs nothing to maintain. 😉

    • SMSgt Mac,

      1. you cannot buy fewer EADS tankers because the issue the USAF needs is the number of booms airborne, not the amount of fuel. Also, the 20% fuel load advantage of the KC-30 is cancelled out by the mush higher fuel comsumption.

      2. Boeing does know how to build tankers. They have been maintaning the KC-135 and KC-10 at depots for decades. They also have all the engineering and drawing paperwork from building the KC-135, and those of the KC-10 when they took over MDD.

      3. The EADS ad is not factually correct. That airplane they are building for the RAAF has about as much in common with the USAF KC-X requirements as the Italian and Japanese KC-767s do.

      I’m afraid the EADS proposed USAF tanker is just as much a paper airplane as the Boeing proposal is.

      • 1) IFARA will take care of what the additinal capacity of EADS is worth compared to the Boeing option.
        And it’s not about booms in the air, the AF is not going to buy KC-130’s, it’s about meeting the mission. IFARA will determine the relative capability increase over the KC-135 for both tankers. Last time around they were 767:1.79 330:1.90 Or a 6% delta (close to fuel burn difference perhaps?)

        2) Boeing knew how to build aircraft but totally botched the 787, Airbus had quite some experience building a/c and similarly botched the 380. Lockheed built fighters before, but the F-35 doesn’t seem to be going as could be hoped.
        Past experience certainly does count, but can be overrated. I certainly hope Boeing is not basing their proposal on 60 year old design/engineering principles and maintenance requirements for 40 year old airframes…

        3) Don’t be silly. Combining wings/fuselage/cockpit from across versions and types and having to redo the boom because it doesn’t do the req’d fuel-flow is not the same as adding a door from the freighter on the same type and some extra mass for armor to the cockpit.

        The EADS proposal is much closer to the RAAF plane than the Boeing offer is to the It/Jp tankers. That doesn’t mean EADS is likely to win.

    • RE: ‘# of Booms in the Air’
      That is somewhat an oversimplification. When I performed LRS studies and examined the topic of aerial refueling, the critical factor for optimizing the tanker fleet was found to be driven by two primary questions, and answers to all other questions fell out from the answers to just these two. First: What is the number and timing of the refuel touches/sortie that the supported force requires? Second: How much fuel offload/touch does the supported force require?
      From the answers to these two questions, I can size (# and physical size) my tanker force in any number of ways to arrive at any number of tanker configuration/fleet size solutions that will satisfactorily support my force. I can run a lifeline of smaller tankers in constant sortie generation to a refueling point, or I can orbit a smaller number of heavier tankers longer on station. It makes no difference to the receiver aircraft until a boom isn’t available.
      What was notable in every case, the biggest driver to tanker sizing and fleet numbers was the unrefueled range of the aircraft needing the refueling. The ‘Eisenhower-era’-cliché KC-135s were bought in sufficient numbers to fuel hundreds of high-SFC medium and heavy bombers and fighters and to do so frequently. Today’s fighters, bombers, and transports have longer ranges and take larger gulps of fuel farther apart than the 50’s force. Done ‘right’, bigger, fewer tankers also need fewer people to support and fly them, and that equals lower O&S costs.
      If we are sizing our force for the kinds of ranges we see in the Pacific, the mission begs a fleet of bigger tankers with greater range and fuel offload capability.
      RE: ‘Mod/Support Experience’
      It has been in my not-inconsiderable experience that design maintenance and piece-part mod/upgrade programs do not contribute greatly to the ability of a company to envision, create, test, and support clean-sheet designs. This seems to be correlated to the dissimilarity of skill-sets involved. In both cases the ability to manage tech data (drawings, etc), state-of-the-art knowledge of critical technology (including materials), and competent program management are necessary to make things work. However, the infrastructure/organizational/technical talent cell that limps along in a minimalist low-$ state that is useful to the mod/upgrade/sustainment post-SDD (old EMD) milieu cannot be scaled up effectively to create a new system for a new environment once the talent that created the last generation is gone. This is due not only to the missing experience factor, but also due to the organizational ossification and limited vision bounded by past experience. Now I base this assertion on experience with guided weapon, UAV, fighter, and bomber programs – but cannot think of why this should not also be true of a tanker program. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I see no reason to revise my assertion, except perhaps to also add that this kind of expertise can’t be ‘bought’ either. It can only be ‘built’.

      • re SMSGMAC–

        So what you are saying is that the USAF has it all wrong in their RFP ?

        That they should have made use of your vast expertise in all the previous competitions ?

        That EADS has more or better or equal tribal knowledge re tankers than Boeing ?

        you could be right- but the current RFP regarding numbers of aircraft and booms and delivery times is what is at issue here NOW. And there are still a few years use left in KC-10 tankers which generally equal or exceed many parameters you claim are needed in the Pacific theater.

        Now it *may* be that the EADS tanker will be appropriate replacement for the KC-10 since by that time, the current EADS tanker will be either in service with a few EU countries or parked in some remote desert airfield.

        But again, that is not HERE AND NOW

  16. And BA also has a few tankers IN OPERATIONAL SERVICE and meeting FAA etc standards

    Not so for EADS

  17. Correct, both the KC-767A/J are FAA certified, as well as the KC-10A.

  18. Although it should be obvious – I believe the 767 airframe was mil-spec certified about 6 to 8 years ago- and I doubt any eads has met that standard

  19. RE: So what you are saying is that the USAF has it all wrong in their RFP ?

    Hmmmm. Specifically, what part of the RFP makes you think anything I wrote is in conflict with the current RFP? Specific reference including what has changed since the last round please. I hate swatting at the abstract.

    RE:That they should have made use of your vast expertise in all the previous competitions ?

    And who says they haven’t/aren’t? 😉

    RE:That EADS has more or better or equal tribal knowledge re tankers than Boeing ?
    Do not transmorgify the assertion that Boeing does not have the living expertise they need to rightfully claim ‘only they’ have ‘X years experience’ in tanker design with a straight face into anything else. They may or may not have better resources than EADS. Don’t know. Don’t care. They just can’t claim expertise that is dead or retired.

  20. . .Hmmmm. Specifically, what part of the RFP makes you think anything I wrote is in conflict with the current RFP?

    The rfp as I recall specifies 187 aircraft. You initial assertion was that fewer aircraft would be needed if they were larger e.g . . . ” Done ‘right’, bigger, fewer tankers also need fewer people to support and fly them, and that equals lower O&S costs.
    If we are sizing our force for the kinds of ranges we see in the Pacific, the mission begs a fleet of bigger tankers with greater range and fuel offload capability. ” . . .

    Which comment IMO when stripped of the bloviation content says, . . the number of aircraft in the RFP could be reduced and accomplish the same tasks . . .

    So IF you are correct, to satisfy your analysis the AF ***should *** have said

    We want yyy aircraft of zzzz load-range capacity OR ffff aircraft of gggg load range capacity for the lowest amount of total $$$$ including Milcon, fuel costs, etc.

    or in simpler terms . . we want xxx 10 passenger vans OR yyyy 50 passenger busses to carry zzzz people to wwwww destinations. Include garages and fuel and related costs for the next 20 years

    place your bets here !

    • Well TopBoom beat me to it, but your response lays in tatters with the observation that the RFP is for ‘up to 179’ tankers.

      • try again – the contract pricing and requirements are to be ** based ** on 179 per the RFP.

        Bid and price on a smaller number at your own peril

      • Don,

        Remember the KC-X is just the first of a three part overture. It’s sized in absolute numbers to replace roughly a third of the KC-135 fleet and Y and Z will replace the KC-10’s and the rest of the KC-135’s.
        I’ll bet the second KC-135 order will be sized based on the operational experience on it’s replacement.

  21. SMSgt Mac, the USAF plays war games a lot, but they also know war gamming often does not reflect operational and/or combat sorties accurately. War gamming helps build war plans, but those plans also include enough flexibility to include the constant fluid action of what is actually happening, not what it is thought to be going to happen.

    The number of Booms needed for a mission is fixed by reality. Why? Because each receiver has a maximum on-load rate that is often lower than the maximum rate the tanker can off-load fuel at. Also spare aircraft are needed for the larger operations, sometimes on the ground, sometimes as ‘air spares’ because airplanes, of all type break from time to time. Finally there is this thing called boom saturation, meaning the maximum number of receivers that one tanker can refuel during one air refueling segment on that mission before the first refueled has less fuel onboard than when it started refueling after the last receiver completes its refueling. That number is around 6 receivers per boom. The more fuel each receiver requires the longer it takes to put that fuel into the receiver’s tanks.

    The size and number of receivers needing tankers will always dictate the number of tankers needed for that mission and distance to be flown. Generally the smaller the receiver size, the more tankers required for the longer distances. F-16s and A-10s require many more tankers than a B-52 or C-17 to fly across the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.

    The RFP calls for “up to 179” new tankers. The phrase “up to” is almost always in a USAF contract for aircraft as it allows Congress to control the costs of that contract by cutting the number of aircraft produced, if it has to control the costs.

    The number of tankers required for a perticular mission is already at the minimum number, by this RFP. Why? Because it requires each tanker to be air refuelable itself. That means an assigned tanker to a mission can go all the way with the receivers refueling them and carrying the required cargo and people for those receivers because other tankers stationed along the route can refuel the mission tanker(s).

    Finally, even looking at recent history for building tankers, Boeing still wins. Boeing sold the KC-767A in 2003 and the KC-767J in 2004. They have completed building 7 of those 8 tankers, and the 4 KC-767Js have been delivered and currently flying operational sorties, including the 2 currently at Red Flag. EADS didn’t sell the first KC-30 until 2005, and that airplane is still in flight testing to this day with the ‘new’ delivery date scheduled to the RAAF later this year (currently 3 years later than planned). The RAAF has yet to say when they will accept this airplane. Remember the Wedgetails were first delivered to the RAAF over a year ago, but not fully accepted until last month, by the RAAF.

    So, even without considering Boeing’s 60+ years of tanker building experience, they are still well ahead of EADS in this current race. I agree the KC-767s for Italy or Japan is not the same KC-767NG proposed for the USAF. But also the KC-30 for the RAAF isn’t the same tanker EADS proposes for the USAF, either.

    Finally, this compitition is to begin repalcing the USAF’s current ‘medium size’ tanker, the KC-135. The KC-135 carries up to 202,000 lbs of fuel, the KC-30 carries up to 245,000 lbs, a 20% difference. But the KC-30 is nearly twice as big as the KC-135, and if selected will be the USAF’s second biggest airplane by wingspan, second only to the C-5. That is a lot of wasted airplane space for only a 20% gain in fuel capacity. Yes, the wingspan on the A-330MRTT is longer than that on the VC-25/E-4 or the B-52. Also the KC-30 MTOW is about 200,000 lbs heavier that the KC-135 and more than 100,000s heavier than the proposed KC-767NG. This requires much stronger and larger ramps than the KC-767NG or KC-135R/T, longer and wider runways and runway safety areas, taxiways, and probibly the loss of a MITO interval of 12 seconds for the KC-135, which is vital for the SIOP mission. The KC-30 has never been tested for MITO at any weight, never mind at MTOW.

    • Looking at recent history, Boeing can’t get the flutter on the 767A fixed and EADS won 67% of all recent competitions.
      The rest of the history/experience debate, if I may paraphrase SMSgt Mac: “Blah, Blah, Blah”

      Also, the current “medium sized” tanker started life as a rather big airframe, for it’s era. In fact, AFAIK, when bought it was second only to the B-52… maybe the KC-30 is a bit small in today’s evolved world?
      The rest of the numbers – again, this will be covered by IFARA. Booms in the air, refuel demand, ramp space – it’s all in there.
      The rest is covered by MilCon.

      What I’m wondering is why the AF/congress doesn’t wait for 5 years. Tell AB/BA there’s gonna be an competition between whatever they can whip up based on the 350/787 and get a truly up to date solution.

      • Yes, when the initial 29 KC-135s were ordered in 1955, it was going to be the second biggest airplane in the USAF/SAC inventory. But the differnce between then and now was SAC was building new AFBs all around the country and could size the ramps accordingly. We are no longer building AFBs, in fact over the last 20 years we have closed over 100 AFBs, we have to live with what we got now. All we can do now is pour money into the current bases to enlarge the ramps for new airplanes.

        IFARA screwed up in the 2008 selection process. Yes they did say the then KC-30 was equal to 1.90 KC-135Rs. But that was only based on tactical missions, not strategic missions. In that mission (4000 nm or more), the KC-135R exceeds the capability of all proposed and current unrefueled tankers in fuel offload. The GAO was very critical of IFARA, as that was air refueling missions they screwed up on.

        If we can afford to wait another 5 years for possible KC-787s vs. KC-350s, then we might as well just cancel the KC-X program altogrether and reengine the KC-135Es.

  22. Your comment on ‘boom # drivers’ is good background for those who have not studied the problem, and are some of those secondary and tertiary questions I referenced as springing from the two key questions.

    Perhaps Boeing isn’t highlighting their recent tanker products due to the problems they’ve had satisfying their Customer’s needs? Just a guess, but I think that doesn’t exactly wow the next Customer in line

    The contract RFP is to replace the KC-135 FLEET capability, and to my knowledge it has never been expressed by anyone on the user side in terms of equivalence on an airframe to airframe basis. It is a meme so often repeated by Boeing and their Congressional toadies that I sometimes think of it as a Gregorian Chant… but it is still only asserted by Boeing cheerleaders.

    The differences in size does not make as big a difference as one might think. Wheelbase and track are not that different and each can fit on existing ramp spaces around the world. Both airframes are flown all over the world and logistics are available and in place that can be tapped on demand. More importantly, the fact that the A330 is ‘over-winged’ allows it to haul significantly more fuel out of shorter airfields – a key factor that kept Boeing from offering the 777 I believe.

    I probably should remind others… AGAIN…, that in general I prefer Boeing airframes and design philosophy (I just abhor their ‘all about them’ business practices. Anyone who’s done business or “teamed” with the Borg will understand). It is just in this particular case, due to business decisions made by both EADS and Boeing commercial sectors in the 1980’s, that by chance, the A330 provides more net value to the AF for the capabilities to be delivered. If I had a dog in this fight (I don’t anymore since Boeing successfully damaged the acquisition process for years to come the last time round and now we all get to live with it) it would probably still irk me that Boeing has successfully manipulated the system to drive the selection towards a less capable, lower value system. There’s still hope I suppose: Boeing better pray the Euro gets stronger instead of weaker.

    and most importantly…
    Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads out there!

    • Happy Father’s day to you too, SMSgt Mac, don, and all others.

      But to rebutt you on the size/wingspan issue, it is significant and important. For air refueling support, the USAF currently leases ramp space on airports around the world for the GWOT. Support those wars, or not, that is where we are today, and in the near future. You can fit more KC-767NGs on a given ramp than you can KC-30s. Airlines already know this. I retired from DFW Airport not long ago and we had airlines flying both the B-767 and A-330/A-340 (which shares the same wing). In a terminal ramp 1,200′ long (not uncommon), you can place 6 B-767-200/-300 gates (5 gates for the B-767-400ER), but only 4 gates to support the A-330 or A-340. Airlines do not require 50′ spacing between the wingtips of parked airplanes, they use 25′ or 30′ depending on the airline, which includes a required firelane.

      The USAF requires a 50′ spacing on each side of a parked airplane. This can be reduced in some speical cases, but those are not the norm. That 50′ provides some additional protection to airplanes parked on either side of an airplane on fire at its parking position. In most aircraft fires in the past for most cases, that is enough, in a few, unfortunately it was not. Look at the KC-135A that blew up and burned on the ramp at Griffiss AFB, NY in 1975, the tankers on either side did not burn, the KC-10A on Barksdale AFB, LA in 1981, and the B-52G at Grand Forks AFB, ND in 1984. The 50′ wingtip spacing helped to save the next airplane, at least long enough so they could be towed safely away. In the GFAFB B-52 explosion and fire, a USAF pick-up truck parked near the wingtip of the B-52 that burned was destroyed by fire.

      • I consider the ramp space differential issue fairly trivial for the following reasons.
        1. It is not uncommon that min spacing is waived (like everything else) when forward deployed and ramp space is at a premium. Especially true when competing with other A/C ops at even big bases [KC-10 Desert Shield/Storm experience as an example]
        2. Depending on the shape as well as the sq ft available, parking schemes can be modified to allow standard spacing, i.e. end of row and other overhang schemes, angle parking, row ‘offsets’.
        3. Because of range and payload differences, the A330 airframes and B767 airframes would probably not be based exactly the same, and if they were, there will probably be fewer A330 airframes deployed to meet the same need.

      • The KC-10 parking issue during ODS highlights the large airplane parking problems. No, the USAF will not deploy fewer KC-30s on a given operation than it deploys KC-135s today. The problem is still the number of booms, not the amount of fuel.

        Based on my experience while working at DFW, it cost DFW about $10,000 to place each new 25′ X 25′ ramp block (today’s standard size, which is only 625 sq ft). Each block is 18″ thick reenforced concrete on top of 9″ of concrete treated dirt, on top of 9″ of lime treated dirt. That does not count the price of any inderground utilities, line fuel lines, water or sewer/storm drain lines, electrical, etc. So, just to add some 62,500 sq ft of ramp space, without the underground utilities takes 2500 standard blocks at a price (in North TX) of $250K.

        It takes about 40,000 sq ft of ramp space just to park one A-330MRTT (roughly 200′ X 200′), without wingtip or fuselage clearances. Compare that to a B-767-200 at about 28,000 sq ft for parking. (roughly 175′ X 160′), with a 15′ wingtip and fuselage clearance all around. Now do that times 179 airplanes at 11 bases, and add another 100% to the costs for the underground utilities and a very rough idea of the costs on MilCon, without engine test stands, hangers, etc. This does not count any MilCon needed at USAF owned depots, like Tinker AFB, OK, which will eventually work on up to 45 KC-Xs per year (based on the current 4 year USAF depot schedule per aircraft) in addition to all other aircraft they work on.

        For 179 KC-30s I come up with new ramp spaces of 7,160,000 sq ft (11,456 blocks), at a rough cost of $114,560,000, or about $114.5M, just for new concrete, without any other modifications to the MilCon. For the KC-767NG, it requires a new ramp space of 5,012,000 sq ft (8,020 blocks), at roughly a cost of $8,020,000, or some $8M. This is just concrete, no new hangers, engine run stands, maintenance shops, squadron buildings, underground utilities, roads, runway and taxiway modifications, Nav-Aids, fuel pit modifications, training facilities, painting parking spots/taxi lines, surveyed parking spots (for INS/GPS alignment), etc.

        Now I agree that some of the concrete used to park these airplanes already exsits, but for the heavier A-330MRTT even that will need to be strenghtened, but not for the KC-767NG. I also agree the new concrete costs difference (KC-30 vs. KC-767NG) of $6.5M spread over 179 airplanes in itself is not significant, but put with all the other requirements of MilCon, it will add up to a significat amount of money. For example Boeing claims the KC-767NG will fit into exsitsing KC-135R hangers. If true, then no new hangers are needed for the KC-767NG, but are needed for the KC-30. A new hanger at each of the 11 bases can costs over $250M each, depending on design, size (how many airplanes fit at one time, usually up to 4), max wind load on the hanger doors, other needed features, etc.

        I did not talk about overseas bases because none of that is known yet, and foreward deployed bases are generally leased for short terms (5 years or less, but can be renewed) and will, most likely not be reconstructed.

      • Again, with the simplistic “# of booms in the air” assertion? I’m starting to wonder if you’re buying or selling Boeing’s storyboard– LOL!
        It depends on the packages to be refueled and the missions the packages fly… which means in this ‘competition’ it will probably come down to that pesky IFARA model that Boeing really seems to hate. The IFARA may have a ‘double whammy’ impact this time, which could have been why EADS decided to throw their hat in the ring. Depending on the scenarios modeled, the longer range and fuel offload of the A330 could lead it to spanking the B767 in mission effectiveness, while at the same time helping the A330 with that evil Total Adjusted Price (TAP) factor.
        As to the other elements affecting TAP, I believe the AF can buy ramp/taxiway/runway space at a better rate than DFW, but even so, the numbers you listed are in the ‘noise’ on this contract.
        The big unknown is the Milcon, since I’m not certain which bases were selected for the number-crunching this time round. At the KC-135 bases I’ve been to, the dominant shelter spaces are nose-docks, and those just may need new doors for all we know. KC-135 bases may also tend to have real-estate that needs refreshing anyway, so major construction differences may be smaller than one might think.

        It’s fascinating watching a politically-driven trainwreck unfold….again. But IMAO it is too bad the warfighter has had to wait around until the loser can ‘win’.

      • The IFARA model will be neglibile next to the adjustment for Fuel Burn. If you don’t believe me just download the fuel burn adjustment spreadsheet and start plugging in some numbers. The amount you’ll come up with is really quite surprising. At most IFARA is worth around $2 billion adjustment if you assume that the IFARA model generates the same mission effectiveness values as last time . It is far from certain that the same numbers will be generated. In particuarly since like any computer model IFARA can effectively be gamed by juggling around the four selected scenarious and other inputs. Northrop predicted an IFARA score of 1.62 for the KC-30 and the real number was 1.9. In fact the predicted scored for the KC-30 was even less than the USAF’s 1.79 value they computed for the KC-767. If NG who wrote the program can’t even make an accurate prediction for the IFARA model I really wouldn’t want to hang my hat on any predictions for the IFARA model. In the end this thing will likely be decided by the lifecycle cost adjustments and lowest bid price. Once you take a close look at the feul adjustment model Boeing’s claim of a $10 billion dollar advantage in fuel burn and MILCON over the KC-30 becomes very believable.

      • I think you mean $80 million for the 767, not $8 million. Or to be precise, $80,192,000. According to your numbers, that is.

      • Oops, your right Aero Ninja, thanks. The price would be $80M and the price difference between the KC-767NG and KC-30 ramp space additions would be $65M, not the $6.5M I wrote.

      • RE: If NG who wrote the program can’t even make an accurate prediction for the IFARA model I really wouldn’t want to hang my hat on any predictions for the IFARA model.

        NG didn’t write the model. The company they bought some time later after the creation of the model did. I believe the model is quite a bit more sophisticated and nuanced than most might suspect. But you are right on one point certainly: it can all come down to ground rules and assumptions on the inputs. The most interesting thing I’ve found is that users of model outputs almost always provide the most rational ground rules the first time around, and then when they don’t get the answer they wanted they fool themselves into thinking a second set of assumptions is more accurate, when all they did was introduce bias into the system. there is a test-taking corrolary to the phenonemon but the name it goes by escapes me at the moment. When events are looked at post facto (as it is rarely done – military OR models being the notable exception) , it is usually discovered that the first set of assumptions –‘by chance’ –were the best.

  23. . .. Perhaps xxxxx isn’t highlighting their recent tanker products due to the problems they’ve had satisfying their Customer’s needs? Just a guess, but I think that doesn’t exactly wow the next Customer in line . .

    Why drag the A400M(erde) into the discussion ?

    • Don’t you also fear the EADS proposal is a paper tiger, too? It hasn’t been built yet, either. Have you noticed that both proposals have a variation of KC-767 and KC-30 are flying, but none of them meet the USAF RFP?

      • Still the same old arguments, TopBoom?

        Have you noticed Boeing testing a complying boom?
        Have you noticed a KC-767 with wing pods flying break away maneuver complying with USAF specifications?
        Have you noticed that the KC-30 for Australia got a civil certification and also the A330-200F?

        There is much more paper within the KC-767NG to make it more bullet proof.

        “Boeing has claimed the airline seat kit and aero-medical kit for the C-17 will also fit their KC-767NG. EADS cannot make that offer.“

        Can you give us some reason why the palletized (463L) seat kit won’t fit in a KC-45 with a cargo floor (SRD If EADS can’t offer the use of the “aero-medical kit” for the C-17, EADS won’t comply with the current SRD (

        How many times people did try to tell you the difference between booms on the ground and boom time on station?

      • MHalblaub, have you noticed that neither Boeing, nor EADS has to demonstrate anything to the USAF yet? Both are only to submit “paper proposals” for USAF evaluation. The USAF is not interested in the hardwear, yet. The USAF will conduct it’s own flight testing, after a selection is made. That is the reason the USAF wants 4 SDD aircraft.

        Boeing pointed out that can design the KC-767NG to use some equipment the C-17 uses, a cost savings to the USAF. Nothing more, nothing less. Yes, the requirement is to fit 463L pallets, on the main cargo deck. The RAAF, RAF, or Saudi A-330MRTTs cannot do that (they will all have pax airliner seats on the main deck). EADS is pushing the lower cargo holds. Can EADS design a system so the 463L pallet fits (in any pallet configueration)? Sure they can. But they have not said anything about that detail, yet. EADS can offer an aero-medical kit, there are several out there. Boeing beat them to the punch by saying they will incorproate the C-17 aero-medical kit into the KC-767NG.

        I don’t know, how many times did they try to tell me the difference between booms “on station” and booms “on the ground”. I flew the KC-135A/E/Q for almost my entire USAF career. I eventually got into flight scheduling and mission package planning, as well as continued to fly as an Instructor Boom Operator, I was an instructor at the Castle AFB “school house” for 5 years. So, go ahead, tell me. After I retired, I was an Airfield Operation’s Officer at DFW, incharge of all FAA complience issues on the airfield, runways, taxiways, ramps, lighting, signage, nav-aids, and airfield construction. Tell me what I need to know about different airplane requirements on an airport.

        Neither the RAAF KC-30, nor the A-330F as of yet have anything to do with the KC-X. So, what’s your point? I could say the B-767 and B-777 aircraft already have certified “F” models, too. But that is just as illrelevent to the KC-X.

        BTW, the ITAF KC-767A, equipped with the WARPs, has already qualified in the standard breakaway manuver. It did that back in 2007.

        Maybe I do have “the same old arguments”. But I have seen nothing new from the EADS cheerleaders, either. I have not hidden the fact I am a Boeing cheerleader, and proud of it.

  24. TopBoom,
    Glad to have you join the food fight. I’ve been feeling lonely (and quiet lately) as one of the few former/current KC-135 operators sticking up for the better sized airplane being offered. I’ve been making many of the same points you’ve made in this thread.
    Keep up the good work. I’m winding up to go back to the sandbox – after we get through more nasty inspection practice.

    • GasPasser, sad to here you have to deploy, again. Remember NKAWTG, and if it at Boeing, it ain’t going. Boeing builds the world’s best tankers, you and I, my friend already know that.

    • Awwww. Group hug everybody.

      Well if we’re going to be silly and start using marketeer jingoism aka “better sized tanker” in normal conversation, then how about “K more A with More TG…Go Team EADS!”?

      Boeing BUILT (past tense) the best early tankers, McDAC BUILT the last best tanker. and just like the stock market past returns are no indication of future performance.

      When the Borg ‘wins’ (nudge nudge wink wink) I’ll have to come up with a suitable name for the KC-767. Hmmm…Something like “Stratolobbyer” will be most appropriate.

      Have a good weekend all!

      • “K more A with More TG…Go Team EADS!”? No body can “K” “A” if the tanker cannot get out of the flight test phase.

        If MDD built the “last best tanker”, then why is EADS proposiong something that is “second rate”?

        How many KC-30s are flying operational missions with any of the world’s Air Forces?

        As far as a suitable name for the KC-767NG, how about “Airbuster”?

  25. Interesting the whole booms in the air scenario.

    Lets take afghanistan, the current tanker base is miles away. Its a real world scenario.

    What else is important? All those F-18s delivering bombs. All flying from carriers in the Indian ocean, none of whom can use a boom, so dependent on probe and drogue.

    Current USAF tankers generally have a max of one of these (totally ruling out their boom f drogue attached),a nd minimising fuel offload.

    The new tanker WOULD change operations. Lets really lay this one to bed, historic operations are not quite the same thing.

    The percent RAF aircraft offload to receiver aircraft (F-18s and other coalition probe and drogue receivers) is very different to USAF boom tankers due to receiver types

    • You are forgetting that some KC-135s are equipped with WARPs, so they can refuel both boom and P&D receivers on the same sortie. All KC-10s can too.

      Yes, the F/A-18s fly a lot of sorties, but USAF aircraft fly about 60% of all strike sorties in Afghanistan. They fly even more in Iraq. The RAF only has a few VC-10 tankers in the area. But yes, they refuel all coilition aircraft too, except those with recepticals.

      Currently, most tankers land at the end of their missions with a lot of fuel still aboard, for the KC-135s, that is sometimes as much as 100,000 lbs of fuel remaining (but usually about 60,000 lbs to 70,000 lbs) . If we are not using all the fuel available now, why do we need a tanker that carries any more fuel than the KC-135? Most KC-135 sorties take off with near, or at MTOW (about 325,000 lbs), and all take off with a gross weight of at least 285,000 lbs (so they can be down to their max refueling weights for A-10s and C-130s at the refueling areas).

      • Hence my point, about than 20% of the tanker force is equiped to refuel 40% of the aircraft on operations. WHilst the KC-10 does have the ability to simultaneously refuel both types on a mission, the KC-135 generally is not able to, and either is still limited to one aircraft at a time (one of the reason the USN pilots aledgedly prefer RAF tankers).

        It takes a 75% less time to refuel four fighter type aircraft if you have two drogues than a boom.

        Basically, is it a case of not enough time or not enough customers?

      • Giblets, I don’t know where you get your information, my friend. Perhaps you should try a different, and correct, sourse for your information?

        1. Both the offers for the KC-X will need to comply with all 372 RFP requirements, including the ability to refuel boom and probe and drogue receivers on the same sortie.

        2. There are a number of KC-135s with that capability now.

        3. The USN does not “prefer” to refuel from the RAF VC-10 tankers. Refuelings are scheduled based on the aviability of the various tankers. For every RAF VC-10 tanker in thearter, there are 10 USAF KC-135s and 2-4 KC-10s.

        4. Your math is wrong about refueling 4 probe and drogue receivers, 2 at a time, in 75% less time than than refueling 4 receivers threw the boom. The KC-X will be able to transfer up to 1200 gpm through the boom, while the WARPs will max out at 400 gpm, or a combined 800 gpm. So the boom transfers 50% more fuel in the same time as two WARPs. Additionally, just to get into the ‘basket’ takes the receiver more time, due to the whipping action and aero-dynamic effects on the ‘basket’ as the receiver’s ‘bow wave’ (yes, even the F/A-18 has one) pushes the drogue. With the boom, the Boom Operator flies the boom into the receptical.

        Also, the initial rate of fuel transferred drops off a lot as the receivers individual fuel tanks fill and the valves automaticly close. The receiver’s refueling plumbing in a probe and drogue is usually 2.5″ (older receivers)or 3″ (more common) in diameter, those equipped with a receptical have 4″ plumbing, which allows 66% more fuel flow than the 3″ line does.

        5. It is not a case of not enough time to refuel. The refueling time is scheduled to meet other mission timings and demands and to limit the number of receivers on any one tanker at any one time to no more than 6. It is a case of not enough customers, though. If the receiver doesn’t need the gas, he/she doesn’t take it, hence the number of tanker missions that land with large fuel loads. The tankers are there, just the receivers are not taking, or needing the extra fuel. But the fuel, tankers, and strike aircraft are there if the guys on the ground need them.

        6. I am a retired Boom Operator.

  26. Query for topboom..

    I would ** assume ** that for safety and redundancy, there would always be at least two tankers available in given area, somewhat dependent on the nearest available landing strip(s) for either the tanker or more important the customer(s).

    And that normally ( eg > 50 percent of the time ) , the ‘ backup tanker’ would offload a smaller portion of its fuel load than the prime ??

    IF so, then it seems to me the ‘ advantages ‘ of a larger fuel load re A3xx would actually be a disadvantage, especially when combined with a higher fuel burn for the same round trip for a given mission .

    • don, that is correct. In most important operations there would be an air spare tanker.

  27. We’d like to see if we can shift the debate a bit. The refueling component has been beaten to death. A crucial, though not necessarily critical, component is the troop/medivac/cargo capability.

    As has so often been pointed out, the KC-135s don’t often perform this mission and the KC-10s may do so but we haven’t seen a lot of discussion about whether they do.

    The changing dynamics of the Air Mobility Command are the reasons the extra capacities of the presumed offerings may or may not be important. The Round 2 competition (2008) was won by Northrop on “more, more, more.” More refueling was one element, but commenters have talked this to death. What are thoughts about more troops, more cargo (and more medivacs) and whether the changing dynamics of AMC suggest “more”?

  28. it would help if you could post link(s) to the appropriate docs/sub docs in the RFP that describe the requirements for other than booms. that way, commenters would at least be working from the same ” book”

    • don,



      The cargo carrying capabilities in the RFP/SRD are also laid out in the SRD I linked to here. But, AMC and the USAF have publicly said they do not want more C-17s, as they have excess cargo capability now. They do want more C-130Js to replace the C-130E for tactical airlift.

      Tanker airlift capability does work well when deploying/redeploying a fighter squadron as the tanker can carry people, cargo, and refuel the fighters at the same time. The KC-10 does this much better than the KC-135. Both KC-X proposals can mimic the KC-10 on this mission. Tankers also airlift their own people and cargo for their own unit deployments. That mission is outlined in the SRD. But, overall, tankers in general, and the KC-767NG and KC-30 are no exception, are not very good cargo carriers. It takes longer to load/unload cargo because it can only be loaded through the side cargo door. Plus, tankers are heavier (basic weight) than even there commercial counterparts, restricting the amount of cargo weight they can carry. They can, and do move people. The aero-medical evacuation missions are not common for tankers, but all current and proposed USAF tankers can do it. For that mission, the KC-767 has a slight advantage over the KC-30 as Boeing has said they will design it to be able to use the C-17 kits for this mission, the USAF already owns these kits.

      Finally you are really asking about the amount of cargo, in cubes and weight. The 2008 offerings carried the same cargo weight, but the KC-30 did have an advantage in cubes. How important is “more, more, more” in the cargo capability? I don’t think it is important at all. In future wars tankers will spend the first 30-60 days just refueling the assets needed to/from the operational area(s), with almost none used for airlift of cargo, but will carry some people. We now have a USAFCOS who understands tanker and cargo aircraft, not a fighter guy or bomber guy. He is the one who has said we don’t need more strategic airlift.

      • The same TopBoom spin over and over again:
        “But, AMC and the USAF have publicly said they do not want more C-17s, as they have excess cargo capability now.”

        You should know that a C-17 guzzles twice as much fuel as any possible KC-X aircraft. A KC-X could perform cargo missions where a C-17 had to be refueled, e.g. CONUS to Bagram or Kunsan.

        “But, overall, tankers in general, and the KC-767NG and KC-30 are no exception, are not very good cargo carriers.“

        Just for outsized cargo. On nearly every airport a KC-X could land you’ll find the equipment to unload this aircraft. By the way, how many commercial orders are there for B767-300F, A330-200F and MD-17 or BC-17? How many orders for freighters did Boeing get after A330-200F production was announced? How many LD3 you can get on a B767-300F or a KC-767NG?

        “It takes longer to load/unload cargo because it can only be loaded through the side cargo door.”

        This time difference is nearly neglectable. Keep in mind the daily operations and not some rare occasions. Therefore you can use the C-only fleet.

        “Plus, tankers are heavier (basic weight) than even there commercial counterparts, restricting the amount of cargo weight they can carry.”

        As a former boom operator you may not know that for air cargo the limiting factor is most of the time space and not weight. And the bigger the aircraft the less tanker equipment weights in relation to total aircraft. A330 is available with increased MTOW of + 5 t.

        “For that mission, the KC-767 has a slight advantage over the KC-30 as Boeing has said they will design it to be able to use the C-17 kits for this mission, the USAF already owns these kits.”
        If the KC-45 can’t use these kits then EADS is out of the competition (SRD

        “How important is “more, more, more” in the cargo capability? I don’t think it is important at all.”
        Is it not so important to reduce the fuel burn on cargo missions? Maybe USAF can refuel directly out of the Gulf of Mexico.

        “In future wars tankers will spend the first 30-60 days just refueling the assets needed to/from the operational area(s), with almost none used for airlift of cargo, but will carry some people.”

        The last wars were with a ramp up of a huge ground force pre action quite the opposite of your future wars. A lot of refueling was done for thirsty C-17.

        Just think of the Il(l) Kim Jong running even madder. To move US troops to Korea USAF could use C-17 (134 troops, refueling needed), KC-767 (~ 225) and KC-45 (~350) (use of palletized seating and permanent seating).

        “We now have a USAFCOS who understands tanker and cargo aircraft, not a fighter guy or bomber guy. He is the one who has said we don’t need more strategic airlift.”

        Daily support or troop moving from and to Afghanistan is maybe not strategic airlift but necessary. Mr. Gates also sees no need for more strategic airlifters. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0610/38926.html

      • Well actually, both Afghanistan and Iraq are stategic airlift missions, for cargo and pax. I also know that cargo space is usually the limiting factor for airlift missions, as opposed to cargo weight. Boom Operators are also fully qualified Loadmasters. Boom Operators are also tasked with the responsibility of the tanker’s weight and balance, they plan the cargo loads, and supervise the loading and unloading of cargo and pax on their tankers.

        The tanker refueling equipment does not weigh less on the larger aircraft, it only is less of a percentage of the overall basic weight of the aircraft. That still does not change the fact the larger aircraft burns more fuel than the smaller one, dispite its L over D index.

        From reports, EADS is not offering the 5 ton HGW version of the A-330MRTT, but we shall see on 9 July, shouldn’t we? The current MTOW of the offered A-330MRTT is thought to be 512,000 lbs, as opposed to what we think the KC-767NG will be, around 417,000 lbs. That is nearly 100,000 lbs difference.

        As to US Military deployment to troubled spots around the world, the US initially relies on pre-positioned equipment or equipment already loaded on US ships manned by civilian crews but managed by the USN. Airlift for the initial portions of any possible future war will be done as it is today, by military and chartered cargo aircraft.

        Yes, the C-17 is a gas guzzler, so is the C-5. But no other aircraft, other than Russian An-124s can lift what the C-5s and C-17s can. The An-124 must stop to refuel at the end of each 2500 nm leg at MTOW, it is not air refuelable.

        Fuel burn rates of all aircraft will always have an impact on the economics of war, but it is not as major a factor as you think. The main mission is to get the warfighters and aircraft into the fight as quickly as possible. Tankers do that better than any other assets we have. But that means the tankers must be loaded with the receiver’s fuel to get them into the fight and keep them there and allow true cargo aircraft to bring on the troops and cargo.

        Bob Gates is correct, we don’t need any more C-17As right now. What we do need is tankers to assure those C-17s get their cargo to where it is needed. The tankers also need to get the bomber force, fighters, recee, AWACS, and other airborne assets into the fight to. They simply cannot do that if they are carrying boxed cargo back and forth.

        If North Korea pushes their war buttons, tankers will be in that fight, but will be stationed in Japan, Okinawa, Guam, and Alaska, not in South Korea.

        There has never been a MD/BC-17 commerical sale, but it is offered. The USAF does not use LD-2/3 igloos, they use the 463L pallets, which is required in the RFP/SRD. Did you read it?

  29. topboom – THANK YOU !

    BY posting a few factual documents, and combined with your comments and experience, the ‘A(irbust) team ‘ may for once find it harder to argue from a strong position of ignorance. . .

    • To stay in taste Don:

      EADS just put wings on a couple of WWII surplus “Milchkühe”,
      thats about as modern as one needs to be to compete 😉

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