McCain puts Boeing, USAF in his sights for $1bn overrun on four tankers

Well, it’s started. See McCain’s letter to the Department of Defense here.

47 Comments on “McCain puts Boeing, USAF in his sights for $1bn overrun on four tankers

  1. Throw them out, and buy Airbus. Let Boeing know that the days of milking the taxpayer are over!

    • Yeah, how dares a US senator to take issue with the tax payer getting fleeced (again) by Boeing or any other DoD supplier for that matter?

    • So did I, and many others. But apparently ‘fixed price’ in this context meant ‘fixed plus 60% of a 33% cost overrun’, since Boeing agreed to a target price that was complete fantasy (and they must have known that when they submitted their bid).

  2. I wonder what kind of letter Dicks would be drafting had this been an EADS contract…

    • The advanced nature of the EADS airframe more likely means that had EADS gained this Disney, contract Dicks, as you refer to him would never had reason to put pen to paper & be rolling around as happy as a pig in poo.

    • Sure, EADS would never jump at the opportunity to have another 600 MUSD covered by tax payers…

  3. The contract ‘ceiling’ for the 4 SDD tankers is $4.9B. That ‘ceiling’ has not been broken. McCain has always been in EADS’s back pocket. Many of his staff came from EADS. EADS-NA contibuted to both his 2008 Presidential run and his 2010 Senate relection run. So, it is not like he is unbiased here. In 2008, he ‘chartered’ a US Airways A-320 (probibly subsidised by EADS) so he could campagin around the country. He is just responding to the strings EADS is, and always has pulled on him. McCain is ‘on record’ for his dislike of the USAF and his ‘prefence’ for the A-330MRTT tanker. Have you ever noticed he does not question the huge overruns of the LM F-35? It is because the F-35B is for the USMC and the F-35C is for the USN. He has not questioned the costs overruns in the current Nimitz class CVN, the Ford calss CVN, or the Virgina class SSN because they are all Navy programs. He also has never questioned the cost overruns of the San Antonio class LPDs. The lead ship of the class was $1B over costs, more than twice the original cost projection. Even today, we have no idea how much these LPDs will cost us. There are 5 in commission, and 5 under construction, with 2 more in planning.

    Now he is worried about $1B? Give me a break.

    John McCain, just another bought and paid for two bit politician. BTW, I am a Republican/Tea Partier.

    • Ouch!

      That news comes two days after McCain revealed this on Twitter: “Congress notified that first F-35 jets have cost overruns of $771M.”

      McCain, long a critic of the Lockheed Martin-led program, and one of the Senate’s most outspoken and blunt members let his feelings about the new cost spikes be known in the same tweet. “Outrageous! Pentagon asking for $264M down payment now. Disgraceful,” he tweeted.

      • Thanks OV-099, I see that story came out today. I had not seen it.

      • Not at all. 😉

        Here’s some additional stuff from McCain in regard to the F-35 imbroglio.

        McCain about JSF: “Some of us saw this train wreck coming.”

        Senator John McCain of Arizona, the panel’s top Republican, warned for the fact that, “…after almost 10 years in development and four years in production, according to outside experts, the aircraft’s design is still not stable, manufacturing processes still need to improve and the overall weapon system has not yet been proven to be reliable”. And “Notably, it has taken Lockheed about 15 years and cost the taxpayer $56 billion to produce and deliver nine of 12 test aircraft. Over that period, Congress has authorized and appropriated funds for 113 F-35 jets. Lockheed has, however, delivered just 11.”

        McCain sharply questioned the cost figures and said “Some of us saw this train wreck coming. (See: LINK, 2008 early warnings”) (…) “Lockheed Martin has done an abysmal job.” (…) It seems to me [prudent that] we at least begin considering alternatives”

    • Blimey, another *barrage, (*from the french) defending the almost indefensible.

    • please indicate how any of the facts and “facts” you quote change the reality that Boeing apparently included a 1 BUSD cost overrun int their proposal? – a practice partially motivated by the terms of the contract the USAF offered.

  4. Nick k. :

    BTW, I am a Republican/Tea Partier.


    Meaning what? This has nothing to do with my political party affilleation, nor anyone else’s here.

    Scott started this semi-political thread abiut one of our most infamous politician’s objection to the costs overruns of thje KC-46A. We don’t even know how true the overruns are, as the first government audit of the program is not due until September, the end of FY-2011. Yes, there will be an audit by the DOD. But McCain can request one from the GAO, too.

    • Good point – we don’t even know if there are actually any overruns. Why doesn’t Boeing object to this slander?

      In my opinion it is because they know full well that every word is true, and might be worse.
      Then again – They may be taking the high road and not comment on rumor or incomplete analysis.

  5. Well, in principle those are US internal struggles, McCain (congress) vs. DoD, and thus they are none of our business. Personally I’m very relieved Boeing and not Airbus/EADS won the contract and has to deliver 179 aircraft to a nearly bankrupt US government.
    But hey, the DoD selected Boeing’s offer because it was the better one (allegedly).
    If McCain is not happy with Boeing and their cost overruns (and the delays to come), his complaints are coming quite late.

    • They are contracted to deliver “only” 4 a/c… Who knows, by the time Boeing Botched (possibly, not implying they will, but acknowledging the possibility) this program, the RAAF might be so happy with their 330 version the USAF just buys a lot of those…

    • “But hey, the DoD selected Boeing’s offer because it was the better one (allegedly).”

      Boeing was very carefull to avoid that comparison.
      The contract went to the cheapest.
      And cheap does have its price in the long run.
      ( Didn’t think that long run would be so short 😉

  6. I thought the controversy was finally put to bed with the latest contract. Apparently not. It’s the program that keeps giving.

    Now, if the various parties put as much effort into actually building the things as they do into trying to take advantage of each other, US airmen and women would be happily filling their tanks as we speak …

  7. Big B bought the contract with a ridiculous Low-Ball bid, now they want us, the US Taxpayer to pick up the slack and cover their backs. Hey, let Washington State pay it along with St Louis and Kansas since they are the ones who will benefit from all the work. I still think Big B will never meet First Article and I hope the AF pulls the contract as a lesson to others who want to milk the US Taxpayer for billions we no longer have. It’s a Tanker, not the next manned bomber. Big B said they had all this great experience in Tankers so where is it and why is development going to cost so much, can someone answer that?

  8. Uwe :“But hey, the DoD selected Boeing’s offer because it was the better one (allegedly).”
    Boeing was very carefull to avoid that comparison.The contract went to the cheapest.And cheap does have its price in the long run.( Didn’t think that long run would be so short

    Would you have used the word ‘cheap’ had EADS won with the lowest bid?

    Jay, do you have any evidence to confirm Boeing will not meet the contract requirements? Do you even know what requirements are written into this first contract?

    Tankers are not simple knock-offs of commerical airliners. EADS proved that with the extended flight testing and delayed delivery of their KC-30/A-330MRTT. Both the Boeing and EADS tankers incorproate technology that is not in airliners, or tankers of the past. These include refueling video systems, defensive systems, extended fuel, hydraulic, and electrical systems, MEDEVAC systems, etc. The last purpose mission built tanker was the KC-135, and the KC-46 is very different different from its Grandfather, although their are some things that are alike (but updated from 1950s technology to 2010s technology). The USAF can also choose to do additional missions with the KC/C-46A airframe (as they did with the KC/C-135 airframe, some 26 different models doing some 32 different missions). You are right, this airframe can never be a bomber, but perhaps it could be a cruise missile carrier, or other offensive mission. The B-52, B-1, B-2, or F-15E can never be an AWACS, J-STARS, Recce, Battle Field/Airspace Manager, or much of a tanker, either.

    Boeing’s experience with building some 2,000 tankers since the 1940s should not be underestimated. EADS is just getting into the tanker business, having only delivered 6 to customers, so far (2 KC-30s and 4 A-310MRTTs). IAI has delivered more tanker aircraft than that, including several B/KC-707s and 2 KC-767s.

    • No, there is nothing cheap about the A330 MRTT.

      It is interesting that you feel the need to cross over to good old Europe when a
      more fitting example ( in context “at what level of quality Boeing deliver ) is just
      around the corner.
      How many years did the world leader in aerial refueling need to finish two small
      batches of tankers ( for Italy, Japan ) that didn’t go beyond existing competence
      in the field by Boeings say so ?

      How happy are those customers?

      Will the performance on home turf be that much better?

  9. Hello KC135TB,
    A little back ground on me. I have worked in AeroSpace for the last 40 years, NAVY, AIR FORCE, ARMY and NASA both Apollo and Shuttle. I also wrote many processes and procedures for the now defunded Constellation Program. I have been qualified in FAR several times by DoD and worked as a Lead Designer for Boeing in the 1980s for number of years preparing modifications for B-52s and KC-135s. I am currently working as an Aerospace consultant to several aircraft companies. Boeing record speaks for its self on new tankers and those tired old 135s should have been sent to AMARC years ago. Of course that’s just my opinion.

  10. Hi Jay,

    I too have worked in aerospace for 40 years, including my 22 year USAF career flying the KC-135A/E/Q tankers (and a little time in the KC-10A, too) as an Instructor Boom Operator. My ‘second career’ was with Airfield Operations at DFW International Airport, and I did help the FAA write some (not several or all) of the new FARs/CFRs that apply to airports, including the ‘new’ CFR part 139. I am fully retired now. I respect your vast experience, it is truely impressive. I think defunding the Constellation Program is a big mistake, but that is ‘water under the bridge’ now.

    Yes, Boeing’s record on delivering new build KC-767A/Js is not very good. But Boeing shares that bad record with EADS, who has an equilly bad record delivering new build KC-30As. The tanker records of both OEMs speak loudly here. I also wish EADS or the RAAF would publisize the final report on what happened to the Boom when it broke, including the cause and sequence of events.

    Boeing has built about 2,000 tankers before they sold any to Japan and Italy. That total may be skewed by the 60 KC-10s MD delivered, in the 1980s, before Boeing took them over. As you know, Boeing’s tanker business began with converting B-29s, and later B-50s to tankers in the late `40s and early `50s. Then they went on to build new KC-97s, convert 1 KB-47F, and later new build KC-135s (the last one delivered in 1966), which is the bulk of their tanker experience. After they built those tankers, Boeing went back into the conversion business for some B-707s converted into tankers, and later the conversions of B-747s and B-707s for Iran. Prior to the KC-767A/J new build tankers, Boeing did build 8 new KE-3 tankers for the RSAF in the late 1980s. So Boeing has built some 12 new tankers in the last 25 years, or so.

    If you were involved in the KC-135s in the 1980s, than you probibly did work on the KC-135E and KC-135R reengining conversions from the KC-135As. You may have even worked on the proposed (but never funded) KC-135Y project, which essentially was to re-wing the KC-135s with the longer B-707-320 wing, along with the new reengining programs.

    The KC-135 is a remarkable airplane, but not a unique one from Boeing. When it was designed in the mid-1950s, it was to have a 12,000 flying hour life span. Modifications, like the lower wing surface reskin program, and the new engines have increased its safe and useful life span (by flying hours) to 40,000 hours (KC-135R/T), and beyond. Even with the increased tempo of the last 10 years, it is only about half way to that limit, most KC-135s have between 20,000 and 25,000 hours on them. Does it have problems and maintenance issues? What 55 year old doesn’t? At 55 I had cancer, and apparently some KC-135s do too (corrosion). If fact, what metal based airplane does not, or will not suffer from corrosion at some point in their lives? Wood based airplanes rot, but I’m not sure what happens to composit based airplanes (like the B-787). What I am saying here is I disagree with your thoughts the KC-135 fleet should be retired to AMARC years ago. Yes, they are old, but ‘old’ does not mean worn out or tired in any well maintaned machine.

    BTW, since the USAF disestablished SAC in 1992, KC-135Rs have been transferred to Singapore, Indonesia, Turkey, France, and now the UK (for conversion into RC-135Ws), as well as KC-135Es to Chile.

    Anyway, perhaps we should be getting back on track with the KC-46A, and McCain’s letter?

    • KC135TopBoom :
      I also wish EADS or the RAAF would publisize the final report on what happened to the Boom when it broke, including the cause and sequence of events.

      Why should they be publishing it? The issue is between the customer and the supplier. Should Boeing also publish something about the alleged flutter problems due to the pod on the outter wing for their tankers?

      KC135TopBoom :

      Boeing has built about 2,000 tankers before they sold any to Japan and Italy.

      What’s the gap between the two? The difficulties shown by Boeing in delivering the Japanese and Italian tankers shows that the ‘experience’ isn’t always applicable.

      On a wider point I am struck by the enormous cost overruns declared by the USAF, only months after the signing of the so called ‘fixed price’ contract. Surely they would have seen that what Boeing is bidding isn’t realistic…

      • The last time Boeing build any tankers for the Air Force Elvis was alive and weighted 110 pounds…

    • KC135TopBoom :
      Yes, Boeing’s record on delivering new build KC-767A/Js is not very good. But Boeing shares that bad record with EADS, who has an equilly bad record delivering new build KC-30As. The tanker records of both OEMs speak loudly here. I also wish EADS or the RAAF would publisize the final report on what happened to the Boom when it broke, including the cause and sequence of events.
      EADS’s track record on this isn’t equally bad. The Japanese KC-767 was delivered about two years late, and it only has the boom refueling system. The Italian KC-767, which also has the pods, was over five years late (initially scheduled for 2005, first one eventually delivered in January 2011)..
      By contrast, the RAAF and RAF A330 MRTTs were both delayed by approximately two years, and both came with boom and wing pods from the start.

      Regarding “what happened to the Boom when it broke” – as already pointed out by UKair, why should the RAAF and Airbus Military do this? Did Boeing publish details on the alleged Italian KC-767 flutter issues (or any details on what took them over 5 years to deliver after first flight)?

  11. fodder for Boeing bashers and the issue is lively again. EADS NA getting back at Boeing ( justifiably ) ; the saga continues. Meanwhile a different set of rules for AM 400 plane ! Both A and B are business guys ,with self interest ,gaining at the expense of the tax payers on such contracts.
    Atleast in KC , there was competition …

  12. KC135TopBoom :
    Hi Jay,
    Yes, Boeing’s record on delivering new build KC-767A/Js is not very good. But Boeing shares that bad record with EADS, who has an equilly bad record delivering new build KC-30As. The tanker records of both OEMs speak loudly here. I also wish EADS or the RAAF would publisize the final report on what happened to the Boom when it broke, including the cause and sequence of events.

    Hi there.

    Yes, Boeing and EADS had delays regarding deliveries of KC-767 and KC-30. 18 to 24 months (I am not sure) delay for the KC-30, up to 4 years delay for the KC-767, and counting, if we consider the Italian Air Force.

    Developping a tanker from an aircraft with conventional flight controls is not the same as developping a tanker from a FBW aircraft. Even the A330F which is a freighter version of the A330 had about 1 year of flight tests to tune the flight controls.

    The major parts of the delays of the KC-30 are due to two things: the change of mind of the customer regarding one particular piece of equipment (I am to believe it has something to do with communications), and the writting of the Operating Manual (for the Boom or the FCOM, I do not know)

    Regarding the Boom incident, since you worked for the militaries, you are bound to know that mishap happens all the time. You are also bound to know that all reports regarding military incidents are not published. Since the aircraft was flying a mission with a Portugese F-16, and since it was a test flight, I am not sure that a civilian investigation board is investigating and I am not sure if they will publish anything. That’s their right.

    Since I read you bashing Europe and EADS a awful lot, and, at the same time, praising Boeing, I am wondering what you are thinking of the UH-72 Lakota programme. Like I said (or tried to, can’t remember if I was published) in an older post, for the last 20 years, try and name the major programmes that went good on costs, on timing and on quality !

    If Boeing cannot manage the costs of a programme, which results on a 25% cost overrun and counting, it is legitimate to wonder what it will be on the whole 179 tankers aquisition programme….

  13. Regarding the A400M – I think it’s a bit pointless to drag this into the discussion. It’s a ludicrous case, for sure, symptomatic of the hybris of EADS and politicians alike. But a programme that was developed from scratch and will come in about 25% over budget is hardly comparable to a derivative programme that was touted as the lowest-risk option available.

    So let’s compare like-for-like: For the A330 MRTT, cost overruns were much more moderate as far as I am aware (couldn’t find exact figures, but if you have a source, please share it, I’m quite curious), and the delay in delivery to the RAAF roughly matched the Japanese KC-767’s delay. Though not the Italian KC-767’s.

    Now, the KC-46. Boeing has, less than half a year after contract award, before the first plane is even built, already conceded that they will exceed costs of just the first four (!) KC-46s by 33% (based on a “target price” of 3.9 billion), or 6.1% (based on the “ceiling price” of 4.9 billion). Further cost increases for building the rest of the fleet not ruled out.
    This is a derivative airplane, to be developed by a company with unrivalled experience “building some 2,000 tankers since the 1940s”. It will be based on an existing tanker (the KC-767, on which a lot of time and money was already spent), in turn based on a well-proven airplane, engines etc. included. A low-risk (medium-risk at best) development, one should think.

    I actually find this ludicrous, particularly for a contract specifically awarded on price, and I say this completely irrespective of who won this contract. The impression I have is that they either deliberately gave a bid that was below what they knew to be the actual cost. Or they have a really shoddy project management that was genuinely surprised to discover additional costs to the tune of 1.3 billion above target price within just five months of submitting their “best and final” bid on February 10, 2011.
    I don’t even want to think about whether it may be a combination of the two.

  14. There is something some seem to have forgotten here. The contract award to Boeing was based on an average price for all 179 tankers. We are talking about just $300 million Boeing now says it MAY loose on the 4 SDD tankers. There is another report of an additional $400 million Boeing MAY loose on these 4 airplanes. I have not heard anyone suggest these losses WILL extend through the entire production of the remaining 175 tankers. Nor is there any suggestion these losses will extend to the addition 14 LRIP tankers to be built between 2015 and 2016. The remaining 161 tankers are to be built at a rate of 12-15 tankers per year over a 10-14 year period. Many of those COULD be ordered through multi-year funded contracts, which does save costs both for Boeing as well as the USAF.

    I don’t know where you come up with a cost overrun of $1.3B. The program for the 4 SDD aircraft was some $3.9B, with a cap of $4.9B. Of that, Boeing is to absorb some $400M and the taxpayers the remaining $600M, a 40/60 split. To date the published (but still unconfirmed) overrun is some $700M, of which Boeing would be responsible for about $280M and the taxpayers about $420M.

    In 1994 the DOD and USAF gave MD 2 years to get costs under control on the C-17A program, and they almost didn’t do it. The C-17 program was saved only after Boeing took over MD and that project in 1995. Boeing did have trouble with the E-737 Wedgetail, but paid the delays (and probibly recovered most of that from NG), but had no delays in the Japanese E-767. Go figuer?

    All I know about the UH-72 Lakota program is that is is on time and under budget. That is good news for EADS and the US taxpayer. But the former VH-71 program spun out of control from LM, EADS, WH, SS, and the USN. The A-400M program is very relevent here if we are to bring the RAAF KC-30, and EADS’s bid of it in the KC-X contest. The contract ‘discussions’ and threat tactics EADS used in tearing up the original contract with its EU customers (and not Indonesia) and getting a new one (because of the program costs overruns), is appauling. Some of those EU customers even own the company.

    So, what we don’t know here is would, or would not, the same thing have happened if EADS had won? Don’t tell me how different the KC-46A is to the KC-767A/J, as the KC-45A is also different from the KC-30A..

    • KC135TopBoom :
      I don’t know where you come up with a cost overrun of $1.3B. The program for the 4 SDD aircraft was some $3.9B, with a cap of $4.9B.

      I actually did the math using exactly these figures in my post, and I did make clear that this only referred to the first four aircraft; so I don’t know what part of my post exactly you’re having a problem with:

      […]conceded that they will exceed costs of just the first four (!) KC-46s by 33% (based on a “target price” of 3.9 billion), or 6.1% (based on the “ceiling price” of 4.9 billion). Further cost increases for building the rest of the fleet not ruled out.

      These numbers referred to McCain’s letter stating “Boeing notified the Air Force that completing the work on the first lot of four aircraft would cost approximately $300 million over the contract’s ceiling price.”
      300 million over ceiling is 1.3b over target.

      When I say “ludicrous” in this context, I mean this:
      1) I find it extremely hard to believe that Boeing only realised in the last 5 months (i.e. after their last offer was handed in) that they will exceed the target price by 1.3B.
      2) If they knew they were going to exceed the target price by that wide a margin at the time of handing in an offer, why pretend that target ever had any relevance? I find it questionable to now pretend like the ceiling price was always the target price, so we’re only really 300 million over the projected cost.
      3) Another option is that Boeing really only realised after their final offer that the target price wasn’t going to be achievable. I would find that ludicrous because of the way it reflects on project management of a deal they’ve had the better part of a decade to think about.

      Bringing up the C-17 is about as relevant as the A400M or the 787. We’re not talking about newly developed airplanes, and we’re not talking about AEW&C derivatives.
      The subject at hand is tanker derivates, and even more specifically 767-based tankers. I didn’t start talking about Boeing’s track record – you actually brought this up yourself:

      Yes, Boeing’s record on delivering new build KC-767A/Js is not very good. But Boeing shares that bad record with EADS, who has an equilly bad record delivering new build KC-30As-

      So now that this has been pointed out to not strictly be true, why do you suddenly say this very track record on the KC-767 has no relevance on the KC-46, which itself is based on the KC-767? Is the track record only relevant if it can be used against EADS?

      The A-400M program is very relevent here if we are to bring the RAAF KC-30, and EADS’s bid of it in the KC-X contest. The contract ‘discussions’ and threat tactics EADS used […] is appauling.

      Firstly, I completely agree that the A400M programme is a shambles and said as much in my initial post.
      Secondly, I still don’t see how this – or the mess that the C-17 or 787 programmes are/were – is in any way relevant to the tanker.

      So, what we don’t know here is would, or would not, the same thing have happened if EADS had won? Don’t tell me how different the KC-46A is to the KC-767A/J, as the KC-45A is also different from the KC-30A..

      We don’t know that this definitely wouldn’t have happened, and I never implied as much. You brought in the A330 MRTT by claiming that EADS’ track record with the KC-30/A330 MRTT wasn’t any better than Boeing’s with the KC-767, which I took the liberty of correcting you on.
      “You don’t know for sure that the other guy wouldn’t have screwed up as well!” is, in any case, not very convincing, generally, except for die-hard fans of the company in question. Witness Apple trying to point at Motorola and Nokia regarding the iPhone 4 reception issues. That convinced those who always knew Apple was better, but not too many other people. Also known as preaching to the converted.

      By the way – if you prefer the US Air Force to use planes manufactured globally, assembled in the US and bearing the brand name of a company founded by the son of a German immigrant, no matter the cost, that’s fine.
      One could also debate the pros and cons of that, but that would be a completely different discussion than the one on track records for tanker derivatives that you started.

    • I may have heard wrong, but as I understood the news, the USAF was predicting the full buffer between the cost target and cost ceiling would be absorbed AND an additional 300 MUSD would be needed – payable by Boeing.

      The outrage I feel should occur is over the fact that just months after the award of a multi-year procurement program, hotly contested and thus thoroughly scrutinized, with very fixed and clear requiremetns, the contracter is apparently already ~(4.9+0.3)/3.9 -1 = 33% over it’s predicted cost. Boeing is predicting they will turn a profit over the duration of the program, in the long run they will incorporate any extra costs now plus interest into the price for the following batches – as they knew and planned all along. (is that why they were so vocal to prevent EADS from doing the same?)
      I think the question of how to deal with a contracter that low-balls such a bid with the assumption of recouping any losses over the follow on procurement, whne the government is locked-in to a single supplier, is a pertinent one (whatever politician poses it).

      Should (could?) Boeing be forced to write off the 400+300 MUSD as losses before any following order is placed, so that cost cannot be added to the next batch. Is there another accounting trick to make sure the tax-payers will never cover these loses to Boeing, and only pay an acceptable profit margin on the next planes (7.5-12.5%?). Why would you accept a 60% risk share on a program your contractor was so confident it could do as promised…

      Don’t misunderstand – I think had EADS won, we would be having the same discussion reversed, so the question remains: how do you insulate the tax-payer from these devious business practices? (whoever performs them)

  15. Again the VH-71 fiasco is resultant from malladjusted wishes for the accessorising of the
    platform. The basic Airframe was ok and the Canadians just got a bargain for
    spare parts.

    On various tanker builds of varying competence:
    Cost Overruns R Us : Todays Boeing.

    Nothing more than paper shuffled and already 20% more money in the drain.
    Well TopBoom, you can’t compare that to the A400M with a strait face, can you?

  16. Well, what ever the cost overruns are, this could be Boeing’s turn in the barrel. I am not worried, LM and the F-35 will replace them.

    Yes, Canada got a great deal on the VH-71As (9?). They will put them to good use.

  17. Another thread which has degenerated in an A vs B discussion…

    I don’t care if you like McCain or not, but he has a track record of kicking defense projects which are over budget. And even if you say he is a hypocrite and does that for his own benefit (which he does because every politician – black, white, left, right, tea party or not – does have pet issues because they need to market themselves to get elected or even supported) , there is the fundamental issue that defense money is running out everywhere except China and more needs to be done with less money. So he has a point to question why there is a big increase in a project which was only approved because the costs were supposed to be under control.

    Most defense projects go out of control because politics and technology get mixed up and you end up with a mess. Both the F-35 and A400M are prime examples. If both were sold to the German government only, they would be operational by now. Not because of the Germans, but because there is only one set of customer requirements. The only minor detail would be that one customer no longer can afford development of such a project, so multiple customers get together and start playing politics…

    The second big reason for cost overruns is requirements creep. The VH-71 is a nice example where the requirements kept changing to reflect dreams and wishes of people involved. The main culprit here were the guys in government running this project, not the defense companies supplying. Killing this project was the only sensible thing to do because $400M per helicopter ($11.2 B for a project which is effectively modifying an existing product) is a joke no matter who flies in it.

    Now we get to the tanker. Here we have the case where we had a 10 year procurement process where in the end the award was made on price only, but this project had probably the tightest set of specifications ever created for a defense bidding process, with the specific intention of keeping politics and lawyers out after it finally had been awarded for the 4th time. So both 2 excuses above are not valid.
    Boeing has a cost overrun of 100’s millions after a few months and that is their problem and no-one else. It doesn’t matter if it is caused by incompetence (not being able to plan a project despite detailed requirements and lots of time) or dishonesty (deliberately underbidding with the intention to recover costs through variations, a standard practice in many industries), you don’t have a future in this business because budgets will go down, more needs to be done with less money and you will get less projects in the future no matter how good you political connections are. So for their own sake, Boeing needs to clean up their house so that they can deliver as promised. And if they can’t, don’t cancel the contract but have them absorb the all cost overruns. That is definately a good driver to clean house.

    • correct me if I’t wrong – but these don’t have the boom, do they.
      and thus also not the capability to be refueled by themselves.
      two rather important bits of tech in teh US version.

  18. Yes, I believe EADS has now delivered 2 KC-30s to the RAAF, with a 3rd tanker to be delivered later this year, and the remaining 2 to be delivered next year. Is that correct?

    The RAF Voyager KC2 version is simply a standard A-330 pax jet with military avionics and the two underwing refueling pods. The Voyager KC3 version is essentially the same, but with the centerline drogue added. The KC-3 version is some 10,000 lbs heavier in basic empty weight than the KC2 version, thus it has a 10,000 lb lower payload.

    As new build tankers go, the RAF Voyagers are among the simpliest to design and modify from the basic airliner they are a derivitive of. The Columbian AF KC-767-200ERs, modified by IAI, also fits into this catagory, but I believe the main deck is a full load cargo floor with a cargo door on the left side of the tanker.

  19. UKair :FSTA is a 3 point tanker: 2 wing mounted pods and 1 in the rear fuselage. UAE tanker is next to be delivered with a boom system in 2011.

    Only the last 12-14 FSTAs will have the three point refueling system, the Voyager KC3s. The first blocks will only have 2 refueling points, the Voyager KC2s.

    The 3 point system will not be used symotaniously. It will either refuel two fighter sized aircraft, from the WARPs, or one “heavy”, such as the E-3Ds Sentry AEW.1 or C-130s from the center drogue. The RAF C-17s can only refuel from a Boom equipped tanker, unless they get modified with a refueling probe later.

    Thanks, I had not heard the 1st UAE A-330MRTT would be delivered this year. Do you have a link?

    • That’s correct, only some will have the capability to of a 3 point tanker configuration.

      KC135TopBoom :
      Thanks, I had not heard the 1st UAE A-330MRTT would be delivered this year. Do you have a link?

      That’s the aim, as far as I understand. No link, sorry.

  20. This is all too funny and too predictable. Airbus are well out of the clustermuck that the tanker bidding process became and they know it.

    Boeing eventually got the rules rewritten to a basis they could win on ie price not quality then severely underbid in order to win hoping to then stick the taxpayer with hundreds of mods in order to make a profit, when the USAF shot down the mods they had to expand the cost envelope which is where we are at the moment only a couple of months down the road form the contract award, and stick the taxpayer with the maximum allowed $400m wiggle room (on a fixed price contract!) while also admitting it will have to pick up $400m on its own, being charitable lets just call this an admission of incompetence..

    The power of the Boeing Washington lobby will succeed in screwing many many more hundreds of millions of dollars out of the american taxpayer over the next couple of years for this fixed price contract. If you want to know why no defence project ever comes in on budget and why US politics doesn’t work just look follow this for a few (more) years.

    I am personally am going to enjoy watching KCToombop defend what he has campaigned for for so long, i have sent out for popcorn..

  21. McCain is right, the contract was a joke. The only incentive is to bill to the contract ceiling. Given the same scenario, Airbus or Goldman Sachs or any bank would do the same thing Boeing is doing.

  22. A bit late on this. Was away for the weekend.

    I understand the hubbub from certain people but I believe they are standing on shaky ground, at the very least. The senator has merely asked why a contact structure, openly espoused by the Mr. Carter, that is more favourable to the tax payer as far as risk sharing goes, was not used for this program which was evaluated as being of low to medium risk (much lower for the great company which, as I kept having to read, has 80 years of tanker knowledge and experience!).
    Sorry but all of the Boeing hacks’ comments and attacks on Airbus for underbidding and expecting the government (taxpayers) to pay for it are coming back at you and I must say, it fits you all quite good.

    Just for once, try looking in the mirror and make an honest appraisal. If Airbus had won, and started off in this manner, would not the outrage be greater? Even if not lead by Senator McCain (which is debatable), it certainly would not have gone unnoticed by the congressman for Boeing, Stormin’ Norman Dicks! Try just for once to be honest with yourselves and not take this “Böing über alles!” approach.
    You might even feel better for it.

    By the way, politics is politics. The democrats developed and awarded this contract and the republicans are going to hound them about it when something does not go right. Well something has not gone right and the only notable point is that it has happened so early in the contract.

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