Tanker update

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about the KC-X tanker competition, which is coming to the forefront again with the issuance of the Interim Report on Boeing subsidies by the WTO.

  • Flight International has this story citing Ralph Crosby, chairman of EADS North America, talking about costs and process in the competition.
  • The Telegraph of the UK has this story about the boondoggle lease deal of A330 MRTTs for the Royal Air Force. A reminder of how lease deals such as that proposed by Boeing in 2001 for the USAF (and killed because of the pricing and improprieties) can be way too costly, the UK MRTT deal is also an example of how dopey specifications can ruin a good idea. The UK DOD didn’t require combat-ready specifications (note to critics: this wasn’t an Airbus failing but a Department of Defence failing) for the MRTT. The UK situation also is indicative of old tanker-transports in need of replacement, just like the US KC-135. Most notably of the parallels is this statement in The Telegraph’s story: But in an era of budget shrinkage, how we buy equipment is as important as what we buy. The AirTanker deal is only the most obvious example of a procurement process that takes too long, costs too much and, even then, doesn’t always give us what we’re supposed to get.

We won’t even get into the US Aerospace effort to compete for the KC-X. Given the financial instability of the company, we don’t consider this to be a credible bid even if it had met the deadline for submitting its bid or prevails in its protest that the USAF improperly excluded them from getting the bid submitted on time.

4 Comments on “Tanker update

  1. I doubt Sec. Gates will allow the WTO interim decision to be considered in the KC-X selection process. He has dine that with the EADS WTO decision. But if he does allow the latest WTO ruling, then the selection of the KC-X has already been made.

    As for the EADS comments, it seems their decision on any plant delay in MOB has already been made. The USAF A-330MRTTs will be built in Europe (Spain).

    The UK MOD is not going to ask for any funds to upgrade their A-330MRTTs, as it was their mistake to not have these capabilities in the first place. The MOD has been forced to look at all costs, down to the costs of bullets and pennies.

    • As the DoD stance has always been that the commercial WTO rulings have nothing to do with military acquisition, it’s Highly unlikely they’ll change that now…

  2. The Telegraph column relating to RAF IFR procurement is pure sensational journalisem, whilst there is grain truth in some aspects of the article the bulk of it can only be described as artistic licence.

    One can certainly question the control or perhaps that should be lack of control the RAF has in this lease quango, dopey indeed. One should also consider that previous RAF IFR platforms whilst funcional were all of a dubious pedigree & had a mend & make do feel to them in addition all were seemingly designed on the back of a fag packet. The MRTT is the first bespoke IFR platform the RAF has ever received & is something of a new train set for it.

    The MoD (Not DOD) request as one would expect was drawn up with the full cooperation of with the RAF We should however be aware that the very style of RAF operations unlike the USAF has meant that from its very conception RAF MRTT’s were never seen to demand oddles of top heavy combat ready kit, this aspect has not changed.

  3. +++ Breaking News +++
    Airbus in talks with China for monster order, 150 aircraft worth over $16 billion

    Airbus SAS is in talks with Chinese authorities and companies for an order for 150 planes worth $16 billion at catalogue prices, French daily La Tribune reported, citing unidentified people.

    The contract would at a minimum include a firm order for 150 planes, comprising 120 A320s, 20 A330s and 10 A350s, according to La Tribune. The firm order could be for more than 200 planes, to which options on more planes might be added, La Tribune said.

    An agreement may be announced in November when Chinese President Hu Jintao visits France, the newspaper said.


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