EADS reveals its analysis of tanker fuel use; says KC-45 is more efficient than KC-767

  • EADS reveals its study–countering two Boeing-commissioned reports–about fuel usage of the KC-45 vs the KC-767;
  • EADS says it delivers more bang for the buck than Boeing;
  • Flight Global has a good story detailing some of Boeing’s KC-767’s technical specifications;
  • Boeing is prepared to deliver its first two KC-767s to Italy by year-end, at long last, five years late.

After two years and two studies commissioned by Boeing promoting the KC-767 as less costly to taxpayers over a 40-year period, EADS has provided its analysis to us of the operating costs of the EADS/Airbus KC-45 tanker vs. the Boeing KC-767. The EADS analysis rebuts the two studies commissioned by Boeing in support of its tanker bid.

EADS and before it went solo, Northrop Grumman, has largely ignored the Boeing studies other than to generally dismiss the veracity of them. In doing so, both said the USAF would run its own analysis and determine the KC-45 delivered more bang for the buck, which is what happened in the 2008 competition won by Northrop. The KC-45 achieved an IFARA (efficiency) score of 1.9 vs. 1.71 for the KC-767.

But EADS and Northrop missed the point of the Boeing studies, and that was to influence Congress, not the Air Force. EADS finally got it, and released the following data.

EADS’ internal study, based on requirements and criteria in the USAF Request for Proposals, says the KC-45 will use 3% less fuel per gallon of fuel delivered on refueling missions than the KC-767 on 500nm trips and 31% less on 2,500nm trips. Thus, using USAF criteria, EADS says on a 2,500nm mission with 250 sorties, the KC-45 will save about $25.8m in one day alone, based on assumed fuel-per-gallon pricing disclosed by the Department of Defense.

Using USAF Net Present Value criteria in the RFP; 500nm increments for missions, and other factors, EADS ran several different scenarios with variable factors based on RFP criteria and concluded that mission-driven factors—and not solely training scenarios on which Boeing studies are essentially based—means the KC-45 $1.37bn to $16.5bn on an NPV basis over the 40 year life cycle.

This compares with Boeing’s AeroStrategy study that concludes the KC-767 saves taxpayers $11bn-$36bn over the same period, but not on an NPV basis.

EADS uses USAF criteria and the cost to deliver a gallon a fuel as the basis for its study compared with the Boeing approach, using commercial airline fuel consumption data filed with the US government.

The distinction compared with Boeing’s methodology is important, as we will explain.

EADS is up front is admitting that if the tankers were flown only for training purposes or ferry flights, which it characterizes as “Point A to Point B” flying, the KC-767 has the advantage. EADS’ own numbers show this type of flying means the KC-45 will cost $175m to $755m more to fly (on an NPV basis) over 40 years than the KC-767.

But after factoring in actual tanker missions, based on the RFP criteria using 45% of the flying as training and 55% as missions, on a 1,000nm range, the net savings proffered by the KC-45 is $3.6bn over 40 years.

In an interview, EADS made available John Butcher, director of Business Development for Air Force Programs. He has been with EADS North America for 1 ½ years, having retired from the USAF as a tanker pilot and in capabilities-based planning. Also made available: Tom White, Director of the consultant firm Chase Analytical Services (CAS Inc.) White is also retired from the USAF in air mobility and in decisions support. He has consulted to the Air Mobility Command for former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Butcher, the career tanker pilot, says that in practice, only about 25% of the tanker flying he did was for training. Using this figure, and the 1,000nm mission range, the NPV savings over 40 years for the KC-45 is $5.3bn after overcoming a $273.7m deficit for the training and ferry-flight flying.

The likelihood that the USAF will eventually transition to more simulator flying with either the KC-767 or KC-45 probably means actual airplane-training will go down, perhaps dramatically. One scenario run by EADS, based on only 10% training flights and a 2,000nm range reveals the KC-767 still out-performs the KC-45 for these training flights, using $168m less in fuel over 40 years on an NPV basis. But when the missions are factored in, the KC-45 saves $16.7bn in fuel, for a net savings of $16.5bn NPV over 40 years.

Source: EADS; click to enlarge.

How is this different from the two Boeing studies?

Boeing in the 2008 tanker competition commissioned a study from an obscure company, Conklin de Decker, to conclude that the KC-767 will use $24bn less in fuel over the 40 year life cycle of the KC-X tanker than the KC-45, which is based on the larger Airbus A330-200. Conklin is better known for its work in corporate aviation than commercial aviation. Conklin essentially took data from the US Department of Transportation filed by US airlines on fuel usage for the A330-200 and the 767-200ER (on which the KC-767 is based) and extrapolated the difference and conclusions.

Because Conklin’s participation in commercial aviation was tenuous, the conclusions were subject to criticism from a number of corners, including this one. We’ve been involved in commercial aviation since 1979 and had never heard of Conklin. The more commonly used commercial aviation consultants are Avitas Aviation, Aviation Specialists, BACK Information, Ascend and Airclaims, among others.

Earlier this month, Boeing released a second study it commissioned, this one by the consulting firm AeroStrategy. Unlike Conklin de Decker, AeroStrategy is a widely known firm that instantly lends a level a credibility to the report that Conklin lacked. AeroStrategy analyzed 10 scenarios to conclude that the KC-767 would save the USAF $11bn-$36bn over the 40-year life cycle assumed in the RFP.

EADS immediately criticized the report as comparing commercial apples to military oranges. In a short, EADS internal study is direct about what it sees to be flaws in the AeroStrategy and Conklin studies.

“Both studies are simple analyses of the fuel burn rates of the two commercial aircraft and neither assigns, or measures, any value for the fuel burned; the aircraft are simply being flown from Point A to Point B without consideration of passengers transported or cargo delivered,” EADS says.

“For the purposes of this military procurement, the issue of operational cost is much more complex than simply measuring fuel burn associated with the two alternative commercial platforms. Under the Boeing studies, no consideration is made for the operational military benefit of the fuel burned by either aircraft. In effect, measuring fuel burn without consideration to military utility is not meaningful.”

EADS continues:

“For example: Assume there are two competing tanker aircraft; one called Aircraft A, and one called Aircraft B. Aircraft A burns 20% less fuel than Aircraft B when they each fly 1500 miles out and back. But Aircraft A can deliver only 70% of the total amount of fuel to a specific point 1500 miles away, when compared with Aircraft B. When you have a firm military requirement to deliver one million pounds of fuel 1500 nautical miles away, you simply cannot afford to ignore the mission outcome: delivery of fuel at range. In effect, measuring fuel burn costs without consideration of fuel delivered at range is a meaningless or worse, misleading, evaluation metric for this competition.”

“A lot has been said about the operating costs for respective offerings,” Butcher says. “Ultimately the job is with the USAF to make determinations of their intimate knowledge of operations and the business of the future. We are looking at the issue of cost efficiency through the lens of the USAF. It is easy to look at it through the lens of commercial aviation or skewed operations. We are using USAF algorithms for the most efficient use of the information rather than a specific outcome.”

“Most [of the arguments out there] have been centered on how much fuel is burned for one airplane vs. the other,” White said. “We went back and looked at how the USAF looks at this, vs commercial data and flying airplane from Point A to Point B. They are commercial airliners, not tankers, with no mission effect, just point A to point B, and no mission analysis.

“We went to RFP and used the measure the air force looks at for efficiency,” White said.

“Boeing assumes all the complexity away. It assumes a certain number of hours per year and that their aircraft will beat ours. All they do is come up with average hourly fuel rate and come up with a number. The truth is, the Air Force will use the tanker for a variety of missions and some may be straight hourly/cost mission, such as training missions, and for this, a smaller/lighter aircraft will be more efficient,” White acknowledged.

But EADS says the RFP will analyze theatre of operations from 500nm to 2,500nm in 500nm increments. The Air Force calculates a fuel offload at range vs. fuel consumed for an efficiency factor.

“When you do that, the farther away, the more efficient we get” Butcher said.

In the Pacific theatre, this is important because one of the presumed foes—China—is developing anti-access strategies to deny access to US aircraft carriers and even forward-area bases, such as Guam. Such would require refueling tankers to transit from much farther away.

In the Afghan theatre, this is important because direct flights from air bases are often restricted due to air space denials by unfriendly governments. EADS argues the larger fuel capacity of the KC-45 means fewer airplanes are needed than would be the case with the KC-767 to refuel airplanes at or near the front.

“We used the numbers the Air Force gave in RFP because that’s what Air Force said we have to meet,” Butcher said about the EADS charts and analysis.

“The RFP is what it is,” said Jamie Darcy, the tanker spokesman for EADS. “We’re not putting out these numbers to influence USAF; the reason Boeing is is clearly laying the groundwork to question the Air Force’s decision-making and question their decision making authority. That is a strategy designed to set an environment, in case [the Air Force] chooses the KC-45, Boeing will question the judgment of the Air Force.”

40 Comments on “EADS reveals its analysis of tanker fuel use; says KC-45 is more efficient than KC-767

  1. I find it hard to believe that Boeing has not run an analysis per the RFP as EADS would suggest. And then optimized the wing spread versus ramp space etc to give the best results with minimum or near zero MILCON costs.

    And it appears that EADS pays no attention to number of booms/drogues needed at a point in space to meet mission requirements

    Add to that the amount of fuel remaining for a typical mission upon RTB, etc

    The game of liars dice is now in full swing . . .

    • Don, of course Boeing has run those same analyses…. That’s why they’re seemingly so preoccupied with both the WTO proceedings and feeding their congressional allies with reports that’s not taking into account the nitty gritty of the RFP (i.e NPV etc.) in order to keep up the political pressure against EADS.

  2. I find it interesting that EADS used the 2007 compitition A-330MRTT (which was essentially the RAAF KC-30). The 2010 compitition requires additional capabilities, such as the armored cockpit, and crew seating for 15. The 2007 airplanes had just 5 crew positions and no armor. The 2010 offerings have a heavier basic weight than their 2007 counterparts. So why didn’t EADS use their 2010 offer?

    Also, dispite what Mr. John Butcher, the “career tanker pilot” said, the tanker training rate is closer to 50%, not the 25% he says. In peacetime, the tanker fly hours consumed by training is close to 75%. Tankers need a continous school house to train new crewmembers, and upgrade pilots from the right seat to the left seat, as well as instructor pilot and boom operator upgrading. The tanker crews not deployed to war must maintane currency and proficency in all areas, including landings, take-offs, types of landings, contacts, manual contacts, and others, in both daytime and night.

    Mr. Butcher is an employee of EADS, so he is just speaking the company line. If he went to work for Boeing, he would be doing the same thing. BTW, Boeing also employs many retired and former USAF KC-135 and KC-10 crewmwmbers.

    • KC, have you ever heard of super light weight armour based on advanced fibre composites, single bumper shields based on Vectran fibers, or the mesh stuffed Whipple bumper shield installed on the International space station to protect against hypervelocity impacts from Micrometeoroids and Orbital Debris (MMOD)?

      Also, if you look at the EADS provided figure above you’d see that they use the 45%-Training/55%-Ops chart as well.

    • “Mr. Butcher is an employee of EADS, so he is just speaking the company line.”

      Can we reverse this?:
      You, spouting the Boeing line, must be a paid by Boeing Astro Turfer ;-?

      Your ad hominem attacks on anybody dissenting from your position
      are tasteless by a wide margin.

      • I did. Why didn’t you use my entire quote?

        “Mr. Butcher is an employee of EADS, so he is just speaking the company line. If he went to work for Boeing, he would be doing the same thing.”

    • “But after factoring in actual tanker missions, based on the RFP criteria using 45% of the flying as training and 55% as missions, on a 1,000nm range, the net savings proffered by the KC-45 is $3.6bn over 40 years.”
      EADS has used these figures in their study, not those Mr. Butcher expressed as being his own personal experience. Mr Butcher had an opinion on what he felt his training percentage numbers actually were, as you have an opinion of your own as well. The Air Force has its own number and that appears to be 45%, per the RFP.

      I also noted that you put quotes around “the career tanker pilot”. Does this mean you doubt his credentials? I do understand your point about his working for EADS and where his loyalties would lie and it is of course, unsurprising, if not downright expected. But I am more interested in knowing the purpose of using the quotes. Perhaps you are quoting Scott, but some could get the impression that you doubt this claim.

  3. KC135TopBoom, training isn’t done as often in the air in the next 40 years as it was until say 15 yrs ago.

    I think the simple fuel consumption per hour base used by Boeing is rightfully questioned in this article. You just can’t ignore the value of different platforms.

    • Where do you think the programmed 489 hour per year per tanker are coming from? Yes, some of those hours will be for peacetime operational flying, but many will not be. In this time of wartime tempos, you would be correct, but neither you or I expect the US to have the next 40 years tied into a war somewhere.

      • Since nine-eleven, America has been fighting what seems to be a perpetual war — indeed, two long wars, each longer than America’s participation in both World Wars put together —without conscription. True, it’s too early to tell what the next 40 years might bring, or even the next 60 years (until 2071 when the last KC-X would be decommissioned re. the RFP), and if America can continue to afford to maintain its massive military infrastructure at the same level as today.

        Gore Vidal, the renowned author of the left has gone one step further and called The Federation of American Scientists’ catalogization of nearly two hundred military incursions since 1945, a Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace

        Similar views of America’s post WW2 wars are to be found on the paleo- conservative right:

        America has an impressive record of starting wars but a dismal one of ending them well.


        The impetus for weaning Americans away from their infatuation with war, if it comes at all, will come from within the officer corps. It certainly won’t come from within the political establishment, the Republican Party gripped by militaristic fantasies and Democrats too fearful of being tagged as weak on national security to exercise independent judgment. Were there any lingering doubt on that score, Barack Obama, the self-described agent of change, removed it once and for all: by upping the ante in Afghanistan he has put his personal imprimatur on the Long War.

        Yet this generation of soldiers has learned what force can and cannot accomplish. Its members understand the folly of imagining that war provides a neat and tidy solution to vexing problems. They are unlikely to confuse Churchillian calls to arms with competence or common sense.

        What conclusions will they draw from their extensive and at times painful experience with war? Will they affirm this country’s drift toward perpetual conflict, as those eagerly promoting counterinsurgency as the new American way of war apparently intend? Or will the officer corps reject that prospect and return to the tradition once represented by men like George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Matthew B. Ridgway?

  4. As I indicated in the previous thread (KC-767 cost advantage over KC-45), Boeing clearly has not accounted for the Net Present Value (NPV) factor at all in their various “public” analyses that have been presented during the last half decade or so.

    In my most recent response to “John” I used his fuel burn figures for the KC-767 (11400 lbs per hour) that he used in a thread back in April:

    EADS confirms KC-X bid

    In that thread, I did do a very rough first order approximation of the fuel burn differential and estimated that the KC-30 was burning fuel at a 20,5 percent higher rate than the KC-767. As I opined in my most recent comment, the 20,5 percent figure for the difference in fuel consumption is, in fact, quite generous to the KC-767 as I believe the correct number for the mean fuel burn delta is closer to half that number (I’ve even seen figures for this difference being in the single digits depending on different commercial flight profiles). However, this analysis was only undertaken for a typical “Point A to Point B” flight profile (as characterized by EADS). For simplicity reasons I used the year 2040 as a mean indicator value for the entire 40 year life cycle cost evaluation, and calculated the differential in fuel cost to be some $1.88 billion (in favor of the KC-767).

    Assuming that the true value for the mean fuel burn differential is 15 percent between the two vehicles for “Point A to Point B” flight profiles, the real figure would be $1,38 billion instead of $1,88 billion. Using EADS’ estimate for 45 percent training and 55 percent Ops, I get $622 million (45 percent of $1,38 billion); a figure that’s within EADS’ cost bracket delta estimate.

    What is clear though, is that the “11+ billion dollar” figure used by Boeing and AeroStrategy would only be valid if their fuel consumption differential input into the RFP NPV calculation chart assumes that the A330MRTT would burn more than 100 percent more fuel than the KC-767 on a “Point A to Point B” training mission, which of course is utterly ludicrous.

    In a Department of Defense report from 2007 (using data from 1997), it’s stated that the fuel delivered via aerial refueling cost “$17,50 per gallon”. As you don’t deliver any fuel on “Point A to Point B” training missions where you’re flying with a typical light payload and less than half empty fuel tanks, the real cost differentiator is going to be the cost of fuel delivered to the receiving aircraft in theater.

    So, the real question should be what the true cost is of the fuel delivered for either aircraft at the established RFP requirements for minimum fuel offloads at the five mission radius ranges: 500nm, 1,000nm, 1,500nm, 2,000nm and 2,500nm (hopefully less than $17,50 per gallon ☺ ).

    The Department of Defense: Reducing Its Reliance on Fossil-Based Aviation Fuel – Issues for Congress

    For example, in 1997, using an average fuel price of 97cents, the Air Force estimated that re-engining the B-52H would generate a savings of just under $400 million over 40 years. Based on that calculation, the service concluded that retrofitting was not cost-effective. The DSB reworked the equation using an average fuel cost of $1.50 per gallon (the board estimated that 10% of the fuel would be delivered via aerial refueling at a cost of $17.50 per gallon) and calculated a savings of $1.7 billion.

  5. Hmmm- the training v ops arguments seem to be missing a few significant definitions, and/or take into account training requirements for the Gasseee – fighters and bombers and cargo and . . .

    One would think that over the next 40 years or so, the majority of the time OPS would consist of a narrow range of functions – war (however defined ), security patrols, and probably emergency aid and relief operations for which a benign environment ( not counting weather ) is a given.

    Hopefully, the war scenario would be only a few years out of 40, and the total of other OPS would be a few years time more. IMHO- the total of such OPS would be considerably less than 10 out of 40 years, or less than 25 %. But training for the event would be nearly continuous, and a certain amount of hands on- not simulator time would be the norm for the other 30 years.

    So why would I use a truck with a ton mile advantage for 70 plus percent of the time, plus garage costs when the majority of my time and effort will be in a non-critical friendly environment which can be handled by a smaller vehicle which provide more flexibility and amenable to training MORE people at a lower cost ?

    • “So why would I use a truck with a ton mile advantage for 70 plus percent of the time, plus garage costs when the majority of my time and effort will be in a non-critical friendly environment which can be handled by a smaller vehicle which provide more flexibility and amenable to training MORE people at a lower cost ?”

      As the gas guzzler sales indicate, because that is the American way!! =:-)

  6. Being a BCA retiree, I am NO expert on arial refueling and as much as I would
    love to see Boeing win the T/T competition, I am relying my conclusions on
    who should win, on the following significant milestones, which I hope will
    cause our airforce to ultimately secure the best T/Ts for the ever “diminishing available defense bucks:
    1.The US Airforce selected the KC-45 over the KC-76 in the first round and before
    the rules were changed, to enable the KC-67 to “win” in the second round.
    2.Four allied airforces selected the KC-45 as soon as it was available and not a
    single additional airforce selected the KC-76, since the Japanese and Italian
    airforces “selected” the KC-67 on a sole-source-bases, and may get their
    KC-76s soon, but FIVE YEARS LATE!
    3.The US cannot and should not base it’s decision on the basis of:
    “US jobs and or the argument that our airforce cannot operate foreign built
    T/Ts for security reasons and the fear of getting cutoff from spares
    supplies in case of war,” while continueing to expect our European ALLIES
    to purchase superior US-built military equipment, such as the F-36 JSF
    for their airforces, as they have done in large numbers!
    4.If the remaining justifications still used by Boeing for the US Airforce
    buying KC-76 T/Ts are:
    A) “Boeing in the 2008 tanker competition commissioned a study from an
    obscure company, Conklin de Decker, to conclude that the KC-767
    will use $24bn less in fuel over the 40 year life cycle of the KC-X
    tanker than the KC-45,” as reported above, and
    B) That the KC-45 requires more parking space because it is larger in
    size compared to the KC-767,than I rely more on the good old ground-
    rule in aviation, which says: “Anything you can do on the ground
    instead of in the air, to save weight, DO IT,” in addition to the fact
    that fewer KC-45s need to be parked than KC-67s, for the same amount
    of fuel to be loaded for a given refueling mission, without even
    giving the KC-45 the assitional credit for its ability to refuel three
    aircraft simultaneously, while the KC-67 can only refuel a maximum of
    two aircraft at one time, saving even more fuel during the refueling
    mission itself and getting “home” sooner and get ready earlier,for the
    next MORE EFFICIENT refueling mission.

  7. KC135TopBoom :
    I did. Why didn’t you use my entire quote?
    “Mr. Butcher is an employee of EADS, so he is just speaking the company line. If he went to work for Boeing, he would be doing the same thing.”

    Quote more? No need.

    You present the Boeing company line as high quality immutable truth.

    You insinuate that Boeing gets by perfectly on telling the truth while
    anybody else has to resort to lies.

    A viewpoint that is about as far removed from reality as can be.

    Going from recent historic appearances a complete reversal, actually.

    • No, I did not say that, but EADS is no more, or less honest than Boeing is. Look how straight foreward EADS has been on their A-400 three ring circus. Boeing and EADS have both had trouble delivering their tankers to their customers. Remeber the RAAF KC-30A is approaching 4 years late. Last spring EADS said the first RAAF KC-30A would be delivered in the summer months of 2010. Were they talking about the Australian summer months (December 2010 to March 2011), or the Northern Hemishere summer of 2010, which ended in September 2010?

  8. Let’s take this one step at a time;

    1. The USAF selected the (then) NG/EADS KC-30 only by violating its own, and other government porcurment rules. Plus the KC-30 was heaverily pushed by Gen. Licht, then the Commander for AMC, who wanted a cushy post retiement job with NG. He now has that job with EADS. The USAF also refused to accept Boeing’s numbers on producing the (then) KC-767AT, and inserted their own made up numbers. That is in the GAO report. BTW, the 2008 compition was the second attempt at buying new tankers for the USAF, not the first one.

    2. Only the Italian KC-767A is 4-5 years late, the Japanese KC-767J was only about 2 years late. The current RAAF KC-30A tanker is now over 3 years late. Half of the EADS A-330MRTTs sold (14) since it was launched by the RAAF were sold to EADS itself, in the Air Tanker lease deal by the RAF. Air Tanker is mostly owned by EADS. Of the other tankers sold, none are more than an order for 5 A-330MRTTs. This is about the same as the sales of the KC-767 to Italy and Japan, which BTW, bought their tankers before the A-330MRTT was launched. India canceled their purchase of 6 A-330MRTTs because of the price. No one has canceled any order for the KC-767.

    3. Why not, most of the rest of the world does that. Most of EU simply awards contracts to EADS without a compitition, like they did for the A-400, and France is doing for their new A-330MRTTs. France has a history of denying parts for the US (and others) if their military forces get into something France disagrees with. Finally, in today’s economy, it is vital we support US jobs and not EU jobs. For the F-35 buys, the EU countries that have ordered it did compare it to French built or EU built aircraft, and made their selection based on what they wanted or needed.

    4A. You are correct, Boeing did commission that 2008 study, and why shouldn’t they?

    4B. As you said, you are not a tanker expert, I am. It is vital to national security the USAF has more booms airborne than the amount of fuel carried by individual tankers. This gives more mission flexibility and avoids boom saturation. The A-330MRTT only carries 20% more fuel than the KC-767NG. It also burns more fuel, it is bigger and heavier than the Boeing offer. Simple physics will tell you that, not this eye wash study from EADS. I believe both the Boeing and EADS offers will meet the RFP/SRD specs, but some specs will effect the gross basic weight, reducing the fuel load that can be carried. We don’t know how much weight the armor will add for example. But a heavier airplane burns more fuel than a lighter one, and a bigger airplane burns more fuel than a smaller one.

    Then we have the parking issue. The A-330-200 is nearly 50% bigger than the B-767-200ER, thus fewer airplanes will fit on a given ramp space. The B-767 is about 159′ X 156′ and needs some 24,804 square feet of ramp parking space. The A-330 is about 195′ X 198′ and needs some 38,610 square feet of ramp parking space (nearly 14,000 more sq ft of footprint). By comparison the KC-135 is about 130′ X 130′ and needs 16,900 square feet to park on, about 8,000 sq ft less than the KC-767 and near 20,000 sq ft less than the KC-30. These numbers do not add in the required 50′ wingtip to wingtip clearance (or the reduced clearance to 25′), or the 400′ nose to tail clearance.

    Neither the KC-767, nor the KC-30 can refuel 3 airplanes at a time in USAF service, so this is not a point. Both can refuel up to two probe equipped receivers at a time, or one receptical equipped receiver, or one receiver on the centerline drogue.

    • “Plus the KC-30 was heaverily pushed by Gen. Licht, then the Commander for AMC, who wanted a cushy post retiement job with NG. He now has that job with EADS. ”

      Correct me if I am wrong, but is that not getting close to slanderous and on the verge of accusing the General of corruption?

    • 1) BS – the rules the USAF broke, based on which the GAO proposed the cancellation of the 2008 award, had nothing to do with the actual operational characteristics and/or evaluation results. They were in fact inconsistencies in communication to Boeing and NG/EADS – i.e. the “More” question.
      The original lease deal in fact fell apart when it became clear the then EADS proposal actually scored better in the evaluation, but was not selected…
      As four your slander on general Lichte… I can only call it slander, and wait for any form of proof, a conviction of both USAF and EADS personnel would go a long way to proof what you insinuate.

      2) Look at the work share of Italy and Japan on Boeing products – see if you can spot the link. Same with most MRTT sales. However, I think we’ll have to agree the RAAF is neutral country that was won by the MRTT.
      KC-767 never won any competition – all it’s sales are are political, not operational/technical based.
      Just to help your argument along – IAI doesn’t seem to have any trouble getting kc-767’s up and running.

      3) Yes, Yurp and the rest are no better than thou – but shouldn’t you lead by example, be better than the rest? Show the free world how it’s done – use the principles of free trade, democracy and capitalism to select the best product for the job… maybe try to fight pork-barrel politics?
      Then again, there’s a lot of KC707’s F-16’s and other US arms littering the EU sky. How much foreign build do you see on your side of the puddle?

      4A) it’s not that they shouldn’t commission it, but we should factor in that fact when evaluating the results. The EADS study is bull as well, just making the numbers dance. It’s easy enough. What I do find interesting is that either side finds no more than about a 10% variation in the total system life cycle costs, either way. Is that cost difference big enough to let it decide the competition on it’s own? or maybe all these studies show is that other factors should decide the outcome of this competition. I asure you the two platforms are more than 10% different. Does the AF have a clear plan on what it wants from the KC-X winner for the next 40 years? Will it be “Just” a tanker, or will other missions/ capabilities be more valuable in the next 40 years than they were in the previous 40?

      4B) With all due respect, as soon as kc-x becomes operational, you WERE an tanker expert. I on the other hand know nothing of refueling – but am quite well versed in aircraft in general. Unfortunately, most of your arguments are based on the past, without looking towards the future or even just at current trends. No, I/we cannot predict the future – but neither is it ever a total surprise.
      What happens in the future when fewer a/c will do the work, fewer US friendly airbases around the world require longer legged missions, better precision bombing require smaller strike packages: Carpet bomb (dresden) > Hirshoma/Iraq > the future…
      Do you think the future will require more booms or more gallons per contact?
      (internal fuel cap klbm: F1613; F1520…)
      shall we make a bet?

      Then you come back to the parking issues. One very interesting question to me, not answered by any analysis – how much farther away can you park the big A-330’s while they are still as fuel effective (fuel burned per fuel delivered), leaving space for the actual important assets at the front
      (Wing area ft2: F15~600, F22~830; F16~300, F35>450)
      Let’s say the average KC-767 mission is 1500nm (average of the ranges covered) – howmuch farther can I park and KC-330 and still deliver the same amount of fuel per fuel burned… let alone the total amount of fuel delivered as is (no fuel burned considered) – that actually frees up a lot of ramp space, doesn’t it?
      how many F35s can you park in a KC-767 spot?

      The kc30 can refuel on 3 points at once, AF doctrine/OPS may need some tweaking but let’s hope the kc707 replacement won’t be hindered by procedures put into place to support an 40y/o airframe… how many 40y/o things do YOU use on a daily basis (excluding human tissue)?

      • Uhhh ewe ?> ….The original lease deal in fact fell apart when it became clear the then EADS proposal actually scored better in the evaluation, but was not selected……


        Before you go slamming anyone due to your familiarity withn aircraft – pay attention to history and well publoicized FACTS.

        The lease deal was proposed a few days after 911. One reason was for JOBS in the aerospace industry, and another had to do with making funds available in a shorter time than the normal 2 to 3 year budget cycle.

        In december 2001 EADS claimed to be able to produce a tanker for 40 percent less than the then BA 767 submission. At that time, the AF was still trying to determine configuration requirements.

        The lease deal failed becasue DRYUN and SEARS and a few others illegally gamed the system – and a few years later spent some time in club FED.

        The GAO speciically commented on the questionable capability of the EADS submission in 2008-9 regarding breakaway, plus a few other ‘ deficiencies ‘ that were essentially ignored.

        The 3 points at once mantra will equally apply to both submittals.

        No matter how one slices it – why buy a kwhopper on the basis of 5 percent use (maybe perhaps ) when then KC11 is still available for unique requirements.??

      • Don, you know why the lease deal stank. The lesser plane was bought at higher price. Druyen and Sears were the result of the investigations, not the cause.
        And if the USAF/Boeing had sold it as an jobs program, nobody would have had grounds for complaining. They tried to peddle it based on a flimsy competition and got caught.
        Also, read the GAO report. they found the USAF did not adhere to the rules and principles as detailed in the 2008 SRD. Most specifically:
        2. Protest is sustained, where the agency violated the solicitation’s evaluation provision that “no consideration will be provided for exceeding [key performance parameter] KPP objectives” when it recognized as a key discriminator the fact that the awardee proposed to exceed a KPP objective relating to aerial refueling to a greater degree than the protester.

        The GAO does not and never will comment on the technical merits of any proposal under review. They evaluate whether the process is followed as outlined. It wasn’t.
        They do comment that the USAF did not fully substantiate their assessment of the likelihood that the A330 would be able to refuel all fixed win receivers. That does not in any way mean that the a330 is unable to perform, but just that the supporting documentation does not seem adequate to the GAO.
        on the three points- the thing is that it makes bigger better.

        however one slices it – why buy a small aircraft that struggles to be an improvement over the current 40y/o incumbent when an paradigm shift option exists…

  9. re the three at a time – seems to me- and I have zip experience re tanking or close to it – that while it might be possible to use two drogues and one boom or the third centerline drogue at a time – the required clearance between two ( or three ) fighter sized aircraft in flight during refueling would be a limiting factor in case of breakaway or other unplanned events, Thus the third centerline drogue and boom combo is mainly for assurance that at least two drogues are available at all times. ????

  10. What is illustrated here is that dependent on it’s role training or actual refueling the EADS maths offers more bang & to quote Leeham EADS ‘Finally got it” the evidence if correct blows Boeing’s current public operational figures out of the water no doubt they are compiling a speedy riposte.

    The USAF knows this data all too well, their prime concern is that they are allowed to select the airframe that works best for them for a second time in an impartial manner without political interference.

  11. I wonder what is the reason for Boeing to hire a consultancy firm to perform a study “using commercial airline fuel consumption data filed with the US government”? What stopped Boeing running their own numbers for a mix of different missions and present their results? Was it to give the report a flavor of independence?

    • Compare to post 911 and the “neutral” coverage provided by CNN, Fox, …
      reurgitating DoD/CIA/.. released information.
      Asking around everybody in the US would asure you that Saddam was involved
      heavily in 911. Exposure of these “facts” as government fabricated fraud
      has not changed storage in the public mind much.

      Due to limited range of news sources used, this is more pronounced in the US
      than elsewhere.

      So, if you want to insert your viewpoint into the public US mind ( independent of
      factuality ) Don’t insert obvious errors and project carefully selected keyhole views via neutral appearing funnels at the general public.

      Any factual corrections published later will not change the mental imprint by
      much if at all.

  12. Looks like Airbus Military got their act together.

    ‘Airbus Military will deliver its first A330 multi-role tanker transport to the Royal Australian Air Force “in the coming weeks”, following its receipt of military certification for the type from Spain’s INTA body’.

    ‘This includes its aerial refuelling boom system and Cobham 905E underwing hose and drogue refuelling pods’.

    ‘Development and certification work on the A330 MRTT has seen the type deliver more than 450t of fuel in over 280 sorties, Airbus says’.


    So it is possible that both manufacturers will deliver thier tankers this year, watch them drum up the news.

  13. Scott – Could you and/or someone else please tell me why it has taken both A & B so long to convert their planes to tankers, why it has cost so much, and what has been the cause of Boeing’s long delays of delivery of tankers to the Italians and Japanese? While all this has been going on, the Dutch, Omega, and now the Iraelis (to Chile) have be using and selling simple, cheap conversions of the 767 and DC-10. Did Douglas have this much trouble converting the DC-10s to KC10s?

    Assuming the AF needs these new tankers, it is clear that deciding which one is a politcally deadlocked issue, and has also become a diplomatic issue between us and the EU. Instead of repeating the same self-serving arguments that were used during the last go-around, we should be thinking of this contract in terms jobs creation here, the current state of our economy, how to use the production of these planes to strengthen the exporting effectiveness of our industries, what should our national strategy be to participate in the burgeoning world economy, and now to improve our already huge economic relationship with the EU. Too bad we have not had the leadership to do this in the last decade or so.

  14. “taken both A & B so long…”

    Well, I have no idea what Boeing did from 2001 onwards ( contract with Italy and Japan, won against a tentative offer from Airbus for a proposed A310 or A330 tanker). Believing TopBoom this should have been “just assemble from COTS parts
    and deliver”.

    Tanker developement at Airbus started earnestly in 2003 ( conversion contract for the Deutsche Bundeswehr A310MRTs, Wingpods only.
    In that timeframe developement of EADS ARBS must have started too. First flight in
    2006 on their A310 MRTT demonstrator aircraft.

    You can search for timelined information via google http://newstimeline.googlelabs.com/ . Interesting to see dates for “first mentioned”

  15. Like TopBoom, I too have a military career flying the KC-135. So I have a deep understanding of how the tanker is used and its limiting factors. I hope that the folks within the USAF have this experience as well and are not operationally-blind number-crunchers.
    In my view, EADS (and Mr. Butcher) is trying to spin the EADS negative into a positive. I’m referring to the larger size of the A330. That larger footprint can carry more fuel than the smaller B-767, so they are using that to their advantage in their charts. The problem is that they are hiding their methodology and assumptions. I believe EADS is comparing fully-loaded (with fuel) tankers. The problem is that is not how the USAF uses a tanker. To conserve fuel, the USAF uses just enough fuel to do the mission with contingency and reserves built in. Even though the 767 burns less than the 330 in a generic per-hour fashion, if you carry more fuel further (in the 330), you can mitigate the fuel burn advantage of the 767. That is exactly what EADS has done in the study and thereby showing lower cost per gallon of fuel delivered. It makes sense for them to show this advantage and to many observers; they will take it at face value. However, with greater insight to tanker ops, I hope to expose the spin. First off, with higher fuel capacity EADS is able to spread the higher cost of carrying it and thereby place itself as lower cost on the chart. For example, let’s say it costs (I’m just making up numbers to illustrate my point) $12,000 for the 330 to carry a full fuel load 1,000 NM (give all away except for what it needs to get back) and $10,000 for the 767 to do the same with its total fuel capacity. But EADS is giving its horse a larger denominator by way of its 20% higher total fuel capacity. So of course when you do the math it’s a lower number. However, a true comparison would be a fixed off-load from different ranges. Let me give you a real operational scenario: Let’s say that map EADS used is for a mission to refuel a reconnaissance aircraft. The off-load is 80,000 lbs. You then compare departing from 3 different bases (distances); Kadena in Japan, Anderson in Guam, and Tindal in Australia. You would calculate how much fuel you need to load into the tanker to do the mission: 80K off-load + tanker fuel burn + contingency + reserves. I believe if you use that methodology, you get a vastly different chart than what EADS is showing us. EADS gives us distances in their chart, but they don’t give us the off-load delivered. That’s where the spin factor comes in.

    I agree with Mr. Butcher that the new tanker will utilize more simulators for tanker crew training, but like someone else said, the receiver aircraft will still want actual in-flight refueling training. So I don’t think the number of training hours for refueling will go down. The number of hours that are for pilot proficiency doing pattern work (approaches, touch & gos, emergency procedures, etc) will certainly drop with better simulators. When not at war, the percentage of tanker hours for training will rise, not because training hours increase, but because operational hours decreases. So EADS assumption of a lower percentage of training missions is highly unlikely given that we are at war now.

    • from the original post:
      “EADS’ internal study, based on requirements and criteria in the USAF Request for Proposals, …

      My simplistic understanding is that this retraces what the AirForce guys do in
      their cubicles 😉

      • C’mon UWE, that’s overly simplistic and you know it. This is teh most EADS friendly explanation of what can be found in the RFP.

    • I think you’ll find the difference between the KC767 and KC30 smaller than most imagine, until you hit the hard limit of the 767.
      But, As I understands, a significant part of the refueling mission is just flying circles, see who calls.
      And what happens when we change the off-load requirement by… some percentage. The higher, the better for the 330 i think.
      Yes, operational procedures will need to be changed to take full benefit of either offering. I hope the AF doesn’t operate their -10 and -135’s interchangeably. they have their respective strengths and weaknesses just as the 767 and 330.
      And why is the load-off fixed at a number that can be carried by a single a/c. During operations, I assume several missions can refuel at a single tanker. i.e., you don’t need an single tanker per strike mission – limiting either your strike mission size or your tanker size…

      In fact, just as refuelled missions are to some extend shaped by the capacity/capability of tankers today, so it will be in the future. Which limitation will you choose. MILCON costs and cost per hour for a smaller/ less flexible tanker or total fuel available and time on station for a bigger/ more flexible a/c?

    • “But after factoring in actual tanker missions, based on the RFP criteria using 45% of the flying as training and 55% as missions, on a 1,000nm range, the net savings proffered by the KC-45 is $3.6bn over 40 years.”
      They claim to save based on the RFP requirements. The much lower trainig ratio is just one scenario that EADS ran.

      I assume the Air Force does know what it is doing as well. In the end, it doesn’t matter, as they are making the decision for which tanker to purchase; not anybody here. Of course than that 3 ring circus known as congress may get involved thereafter and that is the real sad part of this whole saga.

  16. Don S :
    Uhhh ewe ?>

    Missquoting or trying to be funny? your were replying to ikkeman afaics

    ….The original lease deal in fact fell apart when it became clear the then EADS proposal actually scored better in the evaluation, but was not selected……
    Before you go slamming anyone due to your familiarity withn aircraft – pay attention to history and well publoicized FACTS.
    The lease deal was proposed a few days after 911. One reason was for JOBS in the aerospace industry, and another had to do with making funds available in a shorter time than the normal 2 to 3 year budget cycle.

    In december 2001 EADS claimed to be able to produce a tanker for 40 percent less than the then BA 767 submission. At that time, the AF was still trying to determine configuration requirements.

    So Boeing got gifted with a project that would not only keep JOBS but additionally would fill the piggy bank to overflowing. ( For a situation where Airbus production rate dipped by less than 10% )

    The lease deal failed becasue DRYUN and SEARS and a few others illegally gamed the system – and a few years later spent some time in club FED.

    “a few” ?? Ha, Hrm, Hrmm, as The Don I’d expect you to put it that way but most everybody knows that those were the sheep put on the block, everybody else involved went away whistling a tuneless tune;-)

  17. ikkeman :
    C’mon UWE, that’s overly simplistic and you know it. This is teh most EADS friendly explanation of what can be found in the RFP.

    So we wait a ~year and compare to the then published AirForce data?

    EADS current publication is the first that at least purportes to use
    the RFP criteria for valuation.
    Boeing was carefull to never allege that for their own commisioned essays,
    rightly so.

    IMHO EADS missunderstanding was that you can get by on presenting truthfull
    facts in the US market.
    you have to utilise the full range of fantasms stopping just short of
    obvious and outright lies, add a judicous amount of Astro Turfing with
    all stops removed 😉

    • Sorry Uwe, but if you believe EADS is like an naive debutante to teh great US arms ball – I’ve got some beautiful Wyoming Oceanside property for sale.
      Special price, just for you.

      As has been mentioned, MILCON wasn’t factored by EADS, they forgot about basing requirements and didn’t bother about how much fuel was actually needed rather than how much they could deliver.
      This study is just marketing.

  18. Once again EADS proves they have no clue (or are deliberately ignoring) the reality of US tanker operations.

  19. I find the whole tarmac space a curious argument, particularly on most Forward Airbases available around the globe.

    If the US Government can spend a million dollars on a cruise missile, then it can damn well get Army Engineers to lay a bit of extra tarmac.

    Incidently – that is pretty much what happened at Guam for Vietnam.

    This argument was the selling point the British used for their competitor to the 707, that it’s longer chord, meant a shorter take off distance, and hence was able to fly out of more airports. The rest as they say, is history.

    Fact: Engineers can build a strip good enough to take a C-17 in 2 weeks flat.

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