HOTR: Lockheed reveals tanker info: it’s all about America

Sept. 21, 2021, © Leeham News: Lockheed Martin (LMT) last week revealed its dedicated product launch web site page of the LMXT aerial refuel tanker. The LMXT uses the Airbus A330 MRTT as the platform for the US Air Force’s KC-Y competition for which initial information requests have been issued.

LMT and Airbus partnered in 2018 in anticipation of the KC-Y program, originally intended to replace the aging Boeing (nee McDonnell Douglas) KC-10. KC-Z was to follow, an entirely new concept in aerial refueling tankers.

KC-Y is now recast as a replacement for 140-160 Boeing KC-135s. It will be a follow-on to the original KC-X program, which was won by Boeing after three tries. Boeing has 179 orders for the 767-200ER-based KC-46.

America, America, America

LMT’s web page touts the LMXT as “Built in America by Americans.” Although LMT doesn’t have the contract, and the phrase is in the present tense, it’s clear what the intent is.

Spokesperson Stephanie Stinn tells LNA the final assembly site location hasn’t been selected.

The web page’s illustrations show the LMXT with GE and Rolls-Royce engines. The KC-X offered first by Northrop Grumman/EADS (Airbus) and later, Airbus alone, would use the GE powerplant. The current A330 MRTT uses either engine.

“Due to the ongoing assessments and the evolving requirements of the KC-Y tanker per the U.S. Air Force, we continue to explore and discuss about the final choice for the LMXT’s engine. We can definitively say the engine will be produced in the US,” she told LNA.

Read about the KC-X competition in Scott Hamilton’s new book, Air Wars, The Global Combat Between Airbus and Boeing, available here.

158 Comments on “HOTR: Lockheed reveals tanker info: it’s all about America

  1. On the subject of the LMXT, here’s an article (from Sunday) on the continuing shortcomings in the KC-46.
    “The Air Force Is Ignoring the Pegasus Tanker’s Problems:
    Serious deficiencies didn’t stop the Air Force from accepting them into service.”

    Very interesting is the following:

    “Furthermore, the automated system is reportedly “jerking” violently at the end of fuel delivery, damaging the receiving aircraft.

    This is particularly bad for stealth planes, which are coated with expensive radar-absorbent materials and engineered with extreme precision to minimize their radar-cross section. Even a small dent or scratch can significantly increase a stealth plane’s RCS and thus require expensive repair.

    Therefore, until the boom accuracy problem can be fully addressed, the air force may be reluctant to use its brand new refueling tanker with its growing fleet of stealth aircraft.”

    LM is throwing salt on this wound by referring in its PR to the mature and reliable boom performance on the A330 MRRT.

    Incidentally, it would appear that the term “bridge tanker” is intended to refer to the fact that this tanker is a “bridge solution” between replacing the current fleet of ancient KC-135s and KC-10s and developing a new stealth tanker in the future. Interesting in that regard is the following passage:

    “Rather than targeting stealthy and elusive U.S. fighters, adversaries may seek to target ponderous, airliner-sized tankers in future conflicts—without which the accompanying fighters may not even be able to return to base!”

  2. “Built by Americans, in America”, but very sotto voce “(in metric)”.

    It’s going to be interesting to see how this one goes. Surely at some point the US Gov is going to accept that, sometimes, designs from overseas have genuine and strategically important merit.

    If they want to continue to be able to rely purely on domestic research, design and manufacturing then something somewhere in the USA has got to change to shake up some moribund “laurels-today” companies, and where the funds come from to pay for it.

    • NASA is metric.
      Airbus less so.

      They use industry standard stuff which tends to be imperial sized.
      A basic decision from the beginnings of Airbus.

      amusing: imperial units are defined via metric references today.

      • American auto industry is Metric as well. Equally diesel engines for something around 10 years are all metric.

        Most Pumps and such are not, though a standard building hot boiler pump is Grundfoss and is metric (water lubricated semi hermetic type casing, vastly superior to the old B&G piece of junk that had a wire coupler and had to be lubed) – I replaced a lot of B&G with Grundfoss (which I believe are now mfg in US on West Coast California someplace)

        • Speaking of diesel. I am glad the Aussies decided to dump the French diesel submarines. They will be much better off with the nuke subs.

    • more like “Assembled in America by Americans (in the low wage non-union state that throws us the largest incentive package and has the most influential congrescritters) from parts mostly manufactured overseas (which is where the real money is)”

        • You’ve got to qualify your workforce on your own like in any other 3rd world country.
          But that done ..
          The European auto manufacturers with a factory presence in the US and Airbus itself seem to not have quality issues like union presence ballasted Boeing?

          • And Japanese auto and electronics makers achieve better quality than their plants in Japan.

            Leadership is key, ‘greenfield’ location and plant can help including a more motivated workforce. OTOH, Volvo did not do well on the east coast Canada, one suggestion was that local workers did not have the familiarity with industry practices that kids growing up in Detroit had.

            Of course great leadership would recognize the need for more familiarization and training. When I spoke in Rio the boss of maintenance for Varig told me they’d hire out of slums/jungle almost and progress individuals at a pace they could handle. (Whereas in those days more affluent kids were tinkering with bikes and cars growing up so had awareness of technical things.)

            (Perhaps an informal apprentice program, having more experienced workers help inform newbies would help but some workers do not help. Amazing difference in marshalling in BC Ferries operations, some newbies very good, others of varying apparent longevity not. But that’s the union whose answer to me asking what it is doing for safety responded with a link to a web page promoting change of government (which owns the service).

            Middle officer level may be part of the problem, they sank a ship by not having required experience in the bridge in the middle of the night on the Inside Passage. Failed to make an easy turn so side of hull scraped along rock, holing several compartments. Took an hour to go down, everyone but one couple got off into life boats and were helped to settlements in the area.

            Some human factors aspects of typical ship bridge layout and equipment contributed, HF is something serious aviation people pay much attention to.

      • I remember a few years ago at the Paris Air Show, a representative of Lockheed Martin standing with me in the Lockheed Martin Chalet pointed to the Boeing Chalet and said to me: ‘This is Lockheed-Martin enemy!’. I said ‘No, it’s your cousin, the enemy are Airbus, Dassault, BAE System,….’.

        Now I find Lockheed Martin very mean to team up with European heavily subsidized and government supported French-German-Spanish Airbus in order to sell the A330MRTT tanker to the United States Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force. Around 2005, Northrop Grumman did the same odious thing with the KC-45A based on the Airbus A330. Unfortunately, the European tanker was selected under Bush43 by the US Air Force on January, the 29th, 2008 over the Boeing KC-46A Pegasus for the KCX-A competition. I was driving when I received an email from a friend in Washington D.C.. I was stunned and furious. The then-president of EADS America, the ancestor of Airbus was a former USAF General whose brother was also a general in the US Army who picked the Eurocopter UH-72A Lakota.

        Fortunately, Barack Obama once at the Whit House will cancel this odious contract which will be finally awarded to the Boeing KC-46A Pegasus. Obama will also cancel the vile Marine One contract given to AgustaWestland for its EH-101, VH-71A under the US Tri-service aircraft designation system. Finally, US based and owned Sikorsky Aircraft will built the next US Presidential helicopter around the S-92 model, the USMC VH-92A

        It is nice to remind that Boeing has built more than 2000 tankers since 1946: KB-29, KB-50, KC-97, KC-135, KC-10, KC-767, KC-46.

        Airbus less than 50. Even Lockheed Martin built more tankers than the European OEM with more than 200 KC-130.

        It’s an infamy that Canada discarted the Boeing KC-46A in favor of the Airbus A330MRTT to replace its very old A310MRTT, former Canadian Airlines A310 converted in Germany into tankers.

        A few countries some under French dictat, others certainly bribed by French authorities, has chosen the Airbus A330MRTT Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet (the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Greece, Spain, Hungary, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Norway), Australia, United Kingdom, South Korea and of course the French Armée de l’Air who no RFP and no public record of the terms of the contract. Nobody can know how much money Airbus got for the twelve French Air Force tankers.

        But the most signifiant air forces in the world has chosen the Boeing KC-46A Pegasus: the US Air Force, Heyl Ha Avir, the Israel Air Force and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).

        The future is not the A330MRTT based on a very old airframe the A300 one from the 1970’s but the Boeing designed and made in America tanker drone MQ-25A Stingray.

        More than ever, with a Democrat President at the White House, there is not a single reason why the USAF should pick the Airbus tanker over the Boeing one made almost entirely by union workers in America.

        Airbus is offering to built it in its non-union low wage Bible Belt Mobile, Alabama plant. In fact, the only thing done there is assembly from kits coming from France, Germany, Spain and low wages countries.

        Like Benedict Arnold, the GOP are supporting Airbus, a foreign entity founded in 1970 following the wishes of then French President Charles De Gaulle to break the US oligopoly on the building of jet liners by Boeing, Lockheed and Mc Donnell Douglas.

        In no way, US taxpayers money should end up in Airbus pockets. The US Army, the US Coast Guard, the US Navy and NASA are already flying more than 500 Airbus Helicopters while not a single Bell Helicopter, Sikorsky, Boeing, MD Helicopters, Robinson Helicopters are flying for the French governemnt. Not single on in the Armée de l’Air, Marine Nationale, Aviation Légère de l’Armée de Terre, Gendarmerie nationale, Police Nationale, Police des frontières. All are Eurocopter or Airbus Helicopters acuqired without any RFP.

        • Trade is a two-way street. If you want America to buy exclusively home-built products you must expect the excluded European countries to stop buying F35s, C130Js, P8s etc in response. I’d be willing to bet that the trade balance lies heavily in the US’s favour overall so maybe not such a smart move.

          • Roger:

            The only reason Europe buys C130 or P8 is they can’t make those.

            The one try was the A400, which they now find cannot do the tactical missions a C-130 can and are buying more of them.

            As for P8, Europe can’t get its act together to put out a competitor and they had no choice. Even by European standards it would have been ruinous, so UK and Germany bought P8 (Norway as well?)

            F-35 by the way is not a US product, many European nations are participants in building it and they did so to get jobs.

            The theme here is that the US owes it to Europe to buy the A330MRT because they are entitled to that program.

            When you want good working well supported equipment and you want it now, then you turn to the US.

            Otherwise you get the A400 that is neither a C-130 class tactical airlifter nor strategic capacity per the C-17.

            No we are far from perfect. But we are serious about defense not just a jobs program.

            Europe needs to consolidate its defense industries and come up with serious competition. It does not need 4 Main battle tanks etc.

            It also needs to up its defense money and commit to not 2% but 3% defense spending and not build gas line to Russia that is its closest and worst enemy of all it stands for.

          • @Transworld
            …quite a mixed bag I find in your post…

            Firstly… A400M…
            Yeah. Political nightmare. As per usual. Still a lot of the olden days there, especially regarding the engines, which is where a lot (not all) of the issues come from.
            I’m actually sure it’s quite a capable aircraft in the end, but it’ll just be perceived as a failure because it doesn’t meet 100% of the requirements – some of which were somewhat mutually exclusive to begin with.

            “F-35 by the way is not a US product, many European nations are participants in building it and they did so to get jobs.”

            Well, there is that multi-tier partnership structure, and the US is alone in tier 0. So to say it’s not an American product is a bit like saying a 787 isn’t American or an A350 isn’t European. Add a “chiefly” to “American” if need be.

            “The theme here is that the US owes it to Europe to buy the A330MRT because they are entitled to that program.”

            More like: For once the EU did – contrary to the examples you gave – get its act together and produce a military product that is world-class, while the Boeing competitor quite clearly is the also-ran.
            And yet the Boeing product is awarded the contract.
            There’s also the… optics? of apparently having to add NG/LM as American spearhead companies in order to be able to compete. Not because that massively changed the capabilities of the airplane, but because… well… AMERICAN!

            “No we are far from perfect. But we are serious about defense not just a jobs program.”

            None of the European military projects are “just jobs programs”. A bunch of them are executed badly, but they were created out of defined requirements and needs, not out of the need to create a bunch more jobs.
            Although in fairness, I think that whole “jobs program” thing is a bit of a weird point to throw about in the context of military programs because ALL military programs are effectively government-funded, so they ALL are giant jobs programs.

            “Europe needs to consolidate its defense industries and come up with serious competition. It does not need 4 Main battle tanks etc.”

            I actually agree that consolidation is much-needed, but also hard to achieve while there is no EU army. Because… well, there’ll always be the “Buy [insert here] equipment!” cries that eventually lead to four battle tanks, three fighter jets, etc.

            “It also needs to up its defense money and commit to not 2% but 3% defense spending”

            I don’t agree with that, as it happens, and one of the reasons is precisely the point you made above: We don’t really need a giant government-funded creation of more military jobs.
            And yes, I’m aware of how badly maintained e.g. Germany’s military equipment is, and that obviously needs to change. I do put a lot of that down to mismanagement and money spent with bad priorities, rather than a general lack of funding. Germany is still committing to P-8s and C-130s, for instance.

            “and not build gas line to Russia that is its closest and worst enemy of all it stands for.”

            I actually agree with that, not just for political but also for climate reasons. Cheap(er) gas via that pipeline is another huge dose of a drug we all agree we should really stay away from. And I’m saying this as someone with gas heating.

          • anfromme:

            Thank you for a well thought out response though I don’t agree with a number of the points. It is a good example of where we list the differences between allies and see what meshes.

            Defense and where the A330MRT fits into it becomes a complicated subject (and where a KC-46 might fit into it)

            Taking it from the top down. Russia will always be a threat to the rest of Europe. I do not believe they will start an outright invasion off the cuff, but they will pick any opportunity (Crimea/Ukraine/Georgia) to pick off pieces if the opportunity is there.

            The mood in the US is that we don’t owe Europe anything and in fact, costs to the US to support it have been huge.

            Its not out of the kindness of our hearts though I think Europeans miss that there is a strong vein (or was) of supporting democracies there (mostly from seeing what happens when we don’t and we wind up in the mess). Equally keeping Russia at bay is in our interests.

            But the European countries that realize that are the ones with a border very near or with Russia. Germany politically seems to think they can split the difference and not get eaten by the bear.

            I well remember when Russia cut off Europe gas. I have no issue with gas, its vastly better than coal (which is a vast understatement) . Its allowing the Mafia to strong arm you.

            Or in the case of France selling defense equipment to Russia.

            Buying A330MRT when your fighters are broke and not combat capable becomes a huge head scratch. Logistics is as big a part of a viable military as equipment.

            Someone has made a political calculus that we get the votes for the jobs on fighters, tanks etc but not spare parts. So the equipment sits there inoperable and what does anyone think is going to happen if its needed in combat? You need even more spare parts. Your 100 Leopard tanks become no working Leopard tanks in about two weeks. You can’t cannibalize the old ones, their combat system are not current.

            As for top tier equipment? What has Europe made that is in that category. The one item I can think of is the Smooth Bore Rheinmetal Cannon. And in Europe you can’t use Deplete Uranium because its not green (combat is not green either but….)

            As for the A400. A badly specified mission that is not really tactical though it can land in some longer tactical strips, nor does it have the capacity cargo wise to carry large strategic loads.

            P&W was the logical company to supply the engine and the engines were the reason for a lot of delay (not the only one). Equally engine software was the cause of the one crash.

            The A400 was conceived under a civilian part of EADS (Airbus) not the military arm and was supposed to get the best equipment from suppliers.

            So instead they lumped a bunchy of engine types that did not make Turbo Prop engine, had to learn how to work together and design maturity of an engine (and failures in the gear box) and all at a huge cost.

            So, the only US equipment that gets bought is out of desperation (and inability to have a program that makes it)

            Germany was desperate for anti sub capability. Why I am not sure, they are more than willing to get Russian gas and the anti sub is only for Russian aggression?

            Europe never made an equal to the C-130, so France, Germany and the UK keep buying it. That is where the A400 focus could have competed.

            UK bought the C-17s despite it being a duplicate mission to the A400 (but vastly better for the strategic end) – I suspect thye UK with their experience of vast overseas range ops realized what it all meant.

            The A330MRT is a back door success because it is really a joint European endeavor via Airbus.

            And while I don’t think it competes directly with the KC-46, it does work and it works well, because no one interfered with Airbus when they did it.

            The answer really is Germany becomes the tank center of excellence and everyone supplies bits and pieces to that.

            UK gets wheeled vehicles. France gets tracked AFV. Spain gets logistics hauling vehicles.

            Everyone agrees on one fighter and the various countries supply wings, landing gear etc.

            But yes, to maintain a viable military takes at least 3% of the GDP.

            But its only effective if you get more bang for the buck and not have so many duplicated costs your effective defense dollars winds up at 1.5% due to way too high costs to procure it.

          • -> “UK bought the C-17s despite it being a duplicate mission to the A400 (but vastly better for the strategic end)”

            In 2021, RAF marked the 20th year of C-17!!!

            Are you moonlighting as a fiction writer to make ends meet?? 🤔

          • Pedro:

            You are aware the A400 is listed as a Strategic Airlifter?

          • @TW

            Don’t you remember you posted on Sept 21, stating that the A400 doesn’t have the same strategic capacity [of] the C-17??? 😂

        • Here’s an idea: let’s just let the US solve its own tanker problems — with enough patience and money, someone may be able to patch up the Boeing offering so that it is fit for purpose. And if that fails, the USAF can simply buy off-the-shelf, EU-made A330 MRRTs — just as other countries do. No special treatment — very conducive to an increased sense of reality 😏

          • Not a problem. As it took the RAAF 5 years to get the far more deficient (Coms and defense systems) A330MRT into full service.

            I am sure you are not aware that the A330MRT was not even operational during that bid process.

            Clearly you are not aware all programs have issues, some like the hugely admired (and a fair number sold out of US) was almost cancelled.

            Or that Airbus walked away with 1.5 billion on the failed bid.

            Sadly that lack of knowledge is normal.

            One does have to wonder why the EU types want the evil American money.

          • “Not a problem. As it took the RAAF 5 years to get the far more deficient (Coms and defense systems) A330MRT into full service.”

            2013, which was five years after signing the contract, I should point out, not five years after first delivery.

            But what’s your point? If we want to talk references available during the KC-X campaign, we must surely look at the KC-767s Italy and Japan bought. In both cases, it took way more than five years from contract to delivery and service readiness.
            And yes, very obviously, the KC-46 is not a KC-767. This is evident by the schedule and cost overruns the KC-46 has accumulated all by itself since 2011. First delivery 2019, eight years after contract award, combat-readiness expected in 2023, about four years after first delivery, 12 years after contract award. (As per January 2021, anyway.)
            Given the differences between the KC-46 and the KC-767, it was already pointed out during the campaign that the KC-46 was *not* a low-risk endeavour not just by Northrop/Airbus (for obvious reasons), but also by analysts.

            If we want to talk references since the KC-X campaign, we can look at each and every competition in which the KC-46 was pitted against the A330 MRTT, plus the fairly uneventful eight years since the RAF had their A330 MRTT service ready.

            “I am sure you are not aware that the A330MRT was not even operational during that bid process.”

            I am, but I am again not sure what your point is. As I’m sure you’re aware, the A330 MRTT had already been conducting flight tests for a few years at the time and first delivery was less than half a year after the KC-X bid process ended. At the same time, The KC-46… didn’t exist. Which of course kept it from losing a refuelling boom during an embarassing test flight mishap.

            “Clearly you are not aware all programs have issues, some like the hugely admired (and a fair number sold out of US) was almost cancelled.”

            Not sure about Bryce, but I definitely am. But the “well, every project runs into its kinks and issues” trope is wearing a bit thin when it comes to the track record evident in the KC-767 and KC-46. Even imagining there was no competition whatsoever, I’d *really* be hammering the OEM for iron-clad guarantees before awarding them the next program. (In fairness, the USAF did go fixed price on KC-X, so they apparently felt the same way, but are still subject to the operational/delay issues.)

            “Or that Airbus walked away with 1.5 billion on the failed bid.”

            Again, your point being? Rick Wright, the late Pink Floyd keyboarder, was only paid a wage on the band’s 1980/81 The Wall tour (getting kicked out of the band right after). As such, it just so happened that he was the only one of the four band members making any money on that tour.
            That certainly wasn’t what the other three had expected or hoped four. Nor was it exactly free money, either.

            “One does have to wonder why the EU types want the evil American money.”

            Who said anything like that? The complaint was more along the lines of “the US expects others to buy American, but will itself not buy European, regardless of the merit of an individual product”.
            Putting “AMERICAN MADE” at the front of the public requirements of KC-Y doesn’t really do anything to alleviate such concerns.

          • The point is we don’t need the A330MRT.

            Its a nice stalking horse to keep Boeing bid down.

            Other than that, a tanker is a tanker and the KC-46 while badly troubles (and at times a mess) is getting to where it needs to be.

            A330MRT had its teething issues as does the KC-46.

            Pointing all fingers at Boeing and none at A330MRT is hypocrisy.

          • Instead of admission of mistake made, our poster engaged in mental gymnastics.

          • Pedro:

            There are a large number of factors involved in this.

            Many simply do not get nor want to the US procurement system and the place the GAO plays in it. So they call foul when they don’t know what they are talking about though ignorance (defined as lack of knowledge though it can go further with refusal to learn)

            So, you have a stack of reality aspects. Mostly based on the fact that they are two different approaches to a tanker and they do not directly compete (like a MAX-10 does not competitor with the A321, its just the closest thing Boeing has in that category)

            And you have the simple answer that so many want, we don’t need it and won’t buy it.

            Take your choice.

            So, for some I go with yes we are a bribe ridden society with a totally unfair procurement system and Airbus need not apply, and we don’t need it (which is true)

            That will make many happy. I aim to please.

          • ->”The point is we don’t need the A330MRT.”

            Yep. USAF’s lemon is just fine. Throwing good money after bad works!

          • airfomme:

            Again I thank you for a thoghtfull response though again I disagree on various points.

            Developmental: That is a slippery term, I agree fully that the 767T was not a lead into the KC-46 (the only common aspect was they were tankers)

            But the point was, at the time, the A330MRT was as developmental as the KC-46 was.

            And the important aspect is the A330MRT as it was being formed, was not to the same specification as the KC-X bid required.

            Ergo, we don’t know what issues the A330MRT would have had.

            And no, the KC-46 should not have had the ones it did. Clearly Boeing put the C team on that project.

            As for EU money and contracts, there are clearly some Anti US types posting.

            Others seem to feel the tanker contract is a right for Airbus. What they are saying was it was rigged for Boeing. They refuse to look into or how the GAO works and why the award was overturned.

            Equally, when the US does get a European contract, the offsets are huge. In other words, its MIE not MIUSA aspect.

            There is no difference in the contracts and its understandable on both sides of the pond. People want their defense dollars spent in the region.

            I respect Europe right to set any terms they want and the US companies do not have to bid those contracts.

            When a country like France uses the term Treason, we have a huge issue (much the same language as when the GAO per US law over turned the A330MRT award).

            Over here we call that an entitlement. Defined as we get it regardless of laws or merit.

            There is nothing magic about the KC-46 or the A330MRT. If we did not have the KC-46, the A330MRT would work (various adjustments needed but it would work).

            Equally the KC-46 would work for anyone else as well. It might not work as well depending on how they use the cargo/pax carrying part, but yes it would work (better in some cases).

            At that point if people are not going to respect our laws and system of contract awards, fine, we don’t need the A330MRT.

            The RAAF did not detail the A330MRT deficiencies (again its not a KC-X spec aircraft). But they were there.

            The KC-46 has its own and well publicized ones. But they are or will be solved.

            An irony though is the US has 400 KC-135R tankers, EU is the same size and has how many?

        • Phillip Cauchi:

          While I thank you for your support, this stuff on both side is both convoluted and political ridden.

          The F-35 (for better or worse) has major European participation with the UK , Italy, Norway (Netherlands?) heavily involved in purchase (and now Switzerland) . Contract all over the world for participation nations)

          Benedict Arnold is a bit of a stretch as we were in rebellion against (at least legally) our own government (granted we were not allowed to participate in it being provincial scum) .

          And while the A330MRT is based on an old air-frame, reality is the 767 is the same type build, they really are contemporaries . As the 737 has shown us, old does not mean non competitive. Only a 787 or a A350 has a really new air frame.

          There really is nothing wrong with the A330MRT as a tanker and they got the vision system right. The question really is, does it replace a KC-135R?

          And what our European comrades don’t get is that they are two different aspects with the A330MRT more flexible cargo wise (though not main deck) but at the prices of more fuel burn and taking up ramp space.

          So to replace a KC-135R with a bigger foot print means less ramp room, you have to build more ramp, hanger size can be an issue (more hangers).

          Nor does the fuel carry make a difference in most tanker missions as most fuel is brought back.

          A strike package has to fuel up in short period or the fist fighter to tank up then needs more fuel if it has to wait and you never get the package off to its mission as you do a circular fuel thing.

          The KC-46 is lower cost and you get more aircraft for the same amount of money allocated.

          That means you have more tankers where and when you need them.

          How the RAAF operates is not the same as the US. UK Tankers having no booms cannot fuel US aircraft that need the boom.

          And the reality our EU comrades refuse to acknowledge, you can either fuel aircrat or you can carry cargo but you can’t do both.

          Ask Boeing how making an aircraft in a non union state that has no aircraft building experience has worked out!

          • What ‘Transworld’ does not get is that:
            – the A330 is a much larger airplane than the 767, so of course has more space for cargo and burns more fuel to carry itself
            – BUT it therefore can offload much more fuel, that’s why USAF has KC-10s, look at fuel requirements of large bombers. (Indeed, refueling large airplanes with small tankers slows the large airplanes down as twice as many intercepts and hookups are needed. Those include 747 command post airplanes, not just B-2s and B-52s.)
            – a tanker should have fuel not offloaded at end of mission, otherwise aircraft it supports will be in trouble when their needs vary (and note war missions may be cut short thus tanker even more likely to have fuel left over)
            – FACT: boom refueling is an option, Australia’s A330MRTs have it.
            – FACT: some US military services use drogue refueling, they have been using C-130 tankers where feasible (necessary for helos which are slow) and contract tankers in some cases).

            Yes, ramp and hanger space was a consideration for choosing the Boeing 767 tanker over the A330 tanker for the first tranche. But for KC-10 replacement if that is the strategy note the KC-10 takes much ramp space.

            And some of Transworld’s remarks make no sense, such as and cargo vs fuel which is meaningless – ‘multirole’ means something (even the KC-135 can carry some cargo, the newer tankers much more of course), and ‘circular’ something (which I don’t think means he keeps circling back to the same rebutted claims :-).

            And some statements are assertions of how the bidding will end up, not a discussion of factors.

          • Keith:

            While we agree on some aspects, others are muddled by your posting.

            So, for a command post, you don’t wait until you are out, you fuel when you are down a KC-135R worth (carries twice what a KC with the JT7 engines could)

            The A330MRT while it carries more fuel than a KC-46, its 20%, no where near what a KC-10 carries and or can offload.

            Most countries order the A330MRT with a boom, that is not in dispute nor was it posted that way. UK chose the NO Boom option. That makes it useless for USAF assist (as well as number o other countries with F-15/16. )

            KC-130 is mostly a US Marine Corp (special forces may have some for helicopters)

            The USMC fuels both helicopters and fighters off that tanker.

            The USAF sticks with the boom even for fighters which lessons effective of being able to fuel from other tankers or dual fueling (maybe even 3 off a center drogue, don’t know they do that).

            FACT: The latest KC-Y is now being listed as a continuation of KC-X, not a replacement for the KC-10.

        • @Phillippe

          Hey take look at what U.S. called its closest ally bought: A330 MRTT or the U.S. lemon?? 🤣

          • No question the KC-46 has its teething issue and the worst is some if not most were self inflicted.

            The USAF did put out a boom spec that was too rigid (and they are paying for the fix)

            But as with many programs, its getting worked out, being used more and more and it will be up to snuff in a couple of years.

            How many A330MRT made?

            How many KC-46 made?

            And who can ramp up faster? (with an all new assembly line in the US)

        • Canada – normally an avid purchaser of US airframes ‘discarded the KC-46’ because it did not come even close to meeting requirements. So much so that Boeing was prevented from bidding. It is no doubt a matter of much puzzlement to the governments of Australia, Saudi Arabia and South Korea that they are either ‘under the diktat’ of or bribed by France.

          Frankly this is the most atrocious piece of ludicrous American proto-nationalism that I have ever seen on what is normally a balanced and viable site.

          • Me thinks Boeing and its bone headed move on the then C series has caused its products to automatically not meet requirements.

            I don’t blame Canada, as noted there is a fully viable option.

            That said I also do not know what Canada specs are (link?) .

            It has an unusual split of its own area far removed from Europe and the NATO obligation.

            Much like the RAAF, the A330MRT may well be a better fit.

            But as I keep noting, the US operates world wide and has a very different logistics setup to meet that.

            A very large indigenous Cargo capability in C5, C-17 and C130

            CRAF behind that.

            Lots of tankers all over the world (and US) that operate under 900 hours a year.

        • are you for real ?
          do you know a world does exist outside USA ?
          I dont think there’s any value discussing your arguments but information french police is using some Ford’s.

          • youpitof

            You don’t list who your comment was pointed at, but I am guessing its me.

            In fact I am widely read, Ford makes cars in Europe, has for a long long time. Why would the FP not use some?

        • So, 15 countries chose the A330 and 2 countries chose the B767. Israel doesn’t count because they take what they are given.

        • -> ‘more like “Assembled in America by Americans (in the low wage non-union state that throws us the largest incentive package and has the most influential congrescritters) from parts mostly manufactured overseas (which is where the real money is)” ‘

          Sounds like the CFRP jet assembled in SC! 😂

          • Lockheed has plants in Marietta Georgia and Palmdale California. Experienced workforce at both locations
            That’s far more likely than the Mobile plant which is fully committed

          • Add in Dallas Texas but they are dedicated to other work of course and ramping up is extremely difficult as Boeing has found out despite workers being freely able to travel to anywhere in the US.

            If you don’t offer Union benefits then your core expriecne3d people are not going to actually take the jobs, they will and do hire on as contract workers at much higher wages.

            They are (or were) the glue that held Charleston together.

            During the so called Lull with the 787-10, they got (ahem, released) and the whole thing went into the pot.

        • yes it does, and we all know how well that is working.

          thank you for making my point.

      • bilbo:

        Keep in mind a significant percentage of Aibus jets are US content, 30% has been batted about as I recall.

        That does not include the engines (I think those are like 10 million each or more)

        Other factors of course are involved as you mentioned.

    • Are any Aerospatiale helicopters assembled in US?
      They were originally designed and built in metric units, very unlikely US production is different.
      I don’t know about the A220 which was designed and first built in Canada which officially uses metric units.
      Red Herring alert!

      Certainly US should buy from closely Allied nations, it has on occasion (medium bomber from UK long ago, Harrier jumpjet), but the ‘buy local’ fallacy always rears its ugly head.

      Trade barriers just protect the lazy – remember how General Motors coopeted gummint to restrict importation of light pickup trucks, that backfired as Japanese manufacturers went upscale and Europe put duty on chickens. (Harming the budget of European families.)

      • C-27J was ordered from Italy, about half were built before being cancelled and transferred out.

        • I too like the C-27 (and thank you for the reminder)

          The USAF is rife with issues. One is they are so paranoid that they don’t want the US Army to have anything with wings.

          In the case of the C-27 they grabbed it from the Army and then dumped it. Standard for the USAF.

          If any good news, the United States Coast Guard saw the merrit and took them over and put them into service as a patrol aircraft.

          There are places a C-130 should not go or with cargo that has it mostly empty that the C-27 would slot in beautifully.

  3. Going back over recent history : Can the US be judged a honest participant in any contract? Not just mil procurement.

      • uwe:

        Of course not. Just like over there it is a rigged process. Simple.

        So, quit trying to play over here. Save you all that angst and righteous indignation when in fact the US is not allowed to bid on EU programs.

        P&W got kicked out of the A400 program and you got that wonderful mongrel Turbo Prop that has performed so admirably

        • As always misrepresenting the situation.

          This is not about being allowed to bid or not.

          This is about having been asked to make an offer
          and then running into a rigged process.

          The term “objective” seems to be [Edited]

    • Funny. But the Aussies wanted a better mousetrap. Makes one wonder, is the World gearing up for The War to End All Wars…

  4. Has LM suddenly found enough reserve thrust to execute a Breakaway?
    That was one of the sticking points and a disqualifier last time around.

    • That would be a “technical requirement” and can be disregarded( along with common sense), as trifling in this contest.

      • Scott Correa:

        Could you provide a link to what you are talking about?

        To the best of my knowledge (not always perfect of course) any break away is done by the aircraft taking fuel.

        Even if its true it certainly was not the cause of the contract award to Boeing.

        Boeing met the specs and underbid Airbus by 10%.

          • which the USG does not pay for due to the FFP nature of the contract.

            Boeing is eating those losses, rather than the usual cost+ structure where the taxpayer eats it.

          • No wonder a lack of resources: money and R&D resources kept delaying BA’s decison on its next new jet.

        • “Boeing met the specs and underbid Airbus by 10%.”
          ( and exactly those 10% diff needed to avoid a comparison on performance indicating that B was in the know about the A offer details.)

          On paper. If even that. 😉
          What is left of those 10%?
          What will remain open on the list of specs to be fulfilled?

          At the moment it looks like the AirForce has bought a large number of 767 freighters each sporting a decorative stinger 🙂

          • SC:

            Thank you, very informative.

            And the A330MRT can’t do the breakaway – KC-46has more excess power?

            Could a non R variant of the KC-135 do the breakaway?

  5. LM has a point that the tanker staying out of reach from enemies will burn a lot of the fuel themselves and fighters/stealth bombers need to fly quite a distance to safely fill up. Hence fuel capacity will be very important until the stealth tanker is fielded that can stay in the combat zone. It also depend on if you calculate with war with an advanced missile enemy or if you have total air dominance over enemies with AK-47’s and IED’s and can fly “civil tankers” at will.

    • claes:

      That is spin nonsense.

      The issue is the range of the fighters (though we are really talking the fighter bomber configurations)

      If the two way mission range for your fighter is 1000 miles, then you have to be something around 500 miles away from the target with the tanker.

      That is variable as range to the target and range from the target (once the load is dropped) is two different things.

      Now, if your strike package (assuming a Chinese target) leaves from Guam as do your tankers, then fuel and range for the tanker is an issue.

      But if its from Okinawa?

  6. I still don’t really understand, why not the NEO? Why should it be significantly more expensive? The extra fuel economy gives more range for long range missions as well as enabling the A330 to match the 767 fuel consumption. Strategically there is a lot to be said for rolls-royce, it already has a large presence in the US and the US already has a really good hold on the other 2 out of 3 big manufacturers of large jet engines.The same thing is true for airbus.
    It will probably come down to domestic politics however,and I would guess a split buy is the best Airbus can hope for.

    • The A330 MRTT is already developed and tested, still needs to comply with all USAF spec’s especielly systems separation but easier to do in a fly by wire aircraft than a KC767 becoming a KC-46A. To do it in a A330-800neo with its new wing and open a RR Trent7000 assembly+test plant in Indianapolis is costly. LM can easier integrate all their boxes in an existing A330 MRTT, an aircraft that has all the control laws programmed for air to air refueling for its particular aerodynamics. There might be other reasons as well and Airbus will switch tabker eventually but maybe use the A350-1000 as a MRTT instead.

      • claes:

        I will disagree its easier in a FBW. Those wiring routes are fixed and they are not looked at with an external damage aspect.

        I know for a fact at one time the wiring separation on Airbus was poor (Boeing had looked at using an Airbus wring loom supplier back in the 80s, the review team were aghast at the lack of wiring separation)

        Wiring move can be done, but its not easy. The USAF was well versed in the KC-135 and mechanical systems and how to deal with those (aka same holds for the 767)

        What the Airbus A330MRT lacks is the USAF specification for being a communication node as well as the self defense system (not just the ballistic hardening, anti missiles, jammers etc)

        Those are the wires that need to be separated in addition to the control wire systems.

        Yes it can be done but has not been and you have a developmental aircraft you are trying to open up an assembly line for.

        At best 3 years and more likely 5.

        Or you can have Boeing ramp up and crank out more 767s.

        They are not going to use an NEO and they are not going to use RR engines.

        • Grubbie:

          The A330MRT does not have an NEO because its a cost that has no return.

          It also means locked into RR engines.

          Range is not a factor, the KC-46 could be up engined as well and beat the A330NEO.

          While tankers may fly long distances to get to a squadron operation area, they base in a region not from Hawaii or Guam.

          An A330-NEO MRT is more developmental than the current A330MRT and that same aircraft has to meet US specifications it does not meet now. So there is developmental aspects to it (how the RFP will view that is yet to be seen).

          As the KC-135R has no cargo capacity above the KC-46, that too is a mute point and if its a 1-1 replacement, cargo has no factor (and the KC-46 does have a main deck Cargo Door and that is a benefit for cans and pallets loading the A330MRT lacks.

          LM may wind up offering private tankers, those would be US based for training. Cost wise they would be assembled in Toulouse as it would be ruinous to duplicated that work in the US.

          In theory Boeing could offer a paired down KC-46 for private tankering as well.

          But as it stands the KC-46 has all the requirements filled and LM is just being used to keep the price down.

          • If a cargo door is requirement , no reason one can’t be added to A330.
            It’s not a development item for obvious reasons.
            The most likely non tanking requirement is aero medical transport where it’s far better suited than C-17 which can return to doing outsize loads.

          • Duke:

            True, then you have to beef up the main deck for cargo

            More costs that the KC-46 has already.

        • I disagree, just look at the work needed to go from the KC-767 to the KC-46A to meet all USAF specs. It is way easier to reroute electrical wires than mechanical cables and pulleys assemblies in an aircraft. We don’t know how compliant the A330 MRTT is with present USAF tanker spec’s and what needs to be done besides some of the LM systems that will be added. I bet the whole project will be delayed, get into requirement/cost creep and eventually cancelled for a stealth B-21 derived tanker.

          • Respectfully,
            You are so wrong about the wiring. There is virtually no wiring in the KC46 being carried over from the 767. Besides all the new systems being installed, you underestimate the impact of the fact that they all need to be explosion proof when installes in any area where fuel vapor may be present. Thats code for every wire inside the fuselage for starters. The Upshot of that is that the EE Bay and the forest of wiring there and in the cockpit is all new. There were actually not a lot of flight control system changes from the 767s other than the Thrust Reverser delete……

          • Scott Correara:

            My suspicion is that the normal wiring systems were left alone though they may have been upspecced.

            A lot of other wiring system for Boom, drogue, coms, self defense of course would be added.

            The USAF knows manual controls from the KC-135 so that would not be new on the KC-46.

            A lot is speculative because a lot of it is Top Secret view only.

            For an A330MRT, you would have to go through the entire FBW system and protect it and possibly more separation in regards to combat damage.

            How much that would cost?

            Tankers were not targets before but with longer and longer A to A missiles they have become targets and the USAF has that in mind with its specifications .

          • Every wire inside fuselage ?
            Where do you think the fuel is carried in these widebody tankers.
            Its not like the KC-135 , which had tanks in full underfloor cargo locations, plus one in the upper rear fuselage. As well as the wings and centre wing box along with reserve tanks in outer wings .
            Like any airliner with additional fuel tanks they are separate ‘boxes’ in the cargo hold not ‘integral with the fuselage’

          • @Scott, I was referring to the mechanical flight control system vs. FBW system. You need to get redundancy and battle hardness into this system on the KC-46 and that proved to be complicated and costly I assume. Installed electrical wiring for all systems needs to be USAF compliant both in type and routing but that is an easier job than making a mechanical flight control system compliant with todays USAF requirements.
            Just imagine the job on the B-52 re-engine to certify that modified aircraft to present USAF regulations, way harder than getting the Nimrod2000 certified to RAF regulations back then. Boeing will grind out the right engineering managers during that exercise if they manages to go all the way to USAF cert. (Maybe certify it as a firebomber first with the US Forest Service then intergovernmental transfer it to the USAF…)

          • claes:

            You ignored 60 years of KC-135 experience with mechanical controls and protection.

            Equally even more on the C-130 that is intended to go in harms way and has on may occasion. Steel wires are inherently resistant to ballistic damage and can be upgraded to higher spec materials easily. Electrical wires are not.

            FBW in the A330 was not of course designed for combat damage, it was designed for commercial airline specs.

            So you have to come up with a way for ballistic wire protection and you have to come up with a way to ensure the routing is such that it can’t be taken out by ballistic damage.

            Not having worked on either system I can’t say, but it clearly would be no slam dunk for FBW aircraft.

    • the current MRTT is not NEO based.

      it is expected the requirement will specify a currently in production tanker.

      risk would likely be low, but there would still need to be a _lot_ of money spent to on minor design updates and to redocument/recertify for the NEO (including re-certifying for every plane they are qual’d to refuel due to different wake characteristics)

      • NEO as in New Engine OPTION. Would be interesting to know how high the hurdle of moving MRTT cert forward to the NEO would really be.

        • Irrelevant and not going to happen.

          Any A330MRT regardless of engine is warmongering so that is off the table.

  7. GE and Airbus have been discussing the GENX for A330 use again in recent years.–7326170.html

    Question is if GE would be willing to invest the billions with LM and use it’s weight in Washington.. As an old Boeing ally, GE have recently been reviewing their long term strategic interest. The KC46 has Pratts..

    20 Years ago there were even GE/Pratt Engine Alliance A330/GP7000 discussions, pre 7e7/A350. The Boeing-GE 777 partnership was to strong at that stage though.

    • Keesje:

      Irrelevant to the KC-Y program. They will use the GE CF6 as basis for bid.

  8. There are aspects that posters seem to be ignorant of.

    One is that the KC-Y is supposed to be a non developmental aircraft, but is indeed a developmental aircraft as Airbus has never made a tanker to a USAF specification. If you acualy look at the RFP there are a number of areas that are top secret that only cleared people (Airbus people are cleared) are allowed to see (nothing new there).

    Equally, the time delay in putting an A330 assembly line up in the US, Union or no union is going to be huge (they lost the bid by 10% last time)

    As the KC-X was a KC-135R replacement program, the KC-46 still does that perfectly well (and it has a really nice 787 cockpit)

    A330MRT be it a ZX or ZL variant does not stand a chance.

    Boeing should buy the visions system for Europe and get on with the program but not likely to happen now.

    But deficient or not, the KC-46 is increasingly being released to more and more fueling missions. And its accumulating more and more in service time and almost certainly exceeding all the A330MRT fueling missions combined.

    As for the EU types, if you don’t like our rules don’t come over to play.

    • “…a developmental aircraft as Airbus has never made a tanker to a USAF specification.”

      As if the KC-46 is “made to USAF specification” 😏
      It has clocked up at least 8 Category I deficiencies, and hundreds of Category II deficiencies, and has been publicly called a lemon by the USAF. But do continue using it: it does a very nice job scratching the expensive coating from stealth aircraft…and “red” radar operators will appreciate that 👍

    • EU Note:

      For at least the NATO countries, the US and they have far more in common that separates us. In fact, they are a result of the US Revolutionary War in which some form of democracy was established in Europe eventually as a result.

      The disagreement is that an entitlement attitude has been established as the US paid to cover the NATO countries post WWII.

      The US felt it was in our best interests not to repeat post WWI and what resulted debacle.

      Now we have NATO countries as well as the EU in the mix (that same EU that has a number of dictators in its ranks that can veto any EU action)

      France made those same hysteric remarks about treason and betrayal when when the tanker bid was shot down (despite the fact it was deemed illegal by an independent US Agency that the EU types refuse to accept is Independent and served its function exactly the way it was supposed to – and its rare for a contract to e overturn)

      But EU is entitled to bid on US programs and US is excluded from the EU contracts.

      And the defense industry is a job industry over in Europe, repeated inability to deal with their own defense (size wise the EU is the same as the US and should be able to sustain the same military budges but does not come close)

      There has to be something like 6-8 155mm gun system in Europe alone. They all use the same ammo, they sure have nothing else in common and that makes them horribly expensive and over priced.

      And when Libya was creating terrorist mayhem , France refused the US rights to fly over on strike missions.

      I will take most EU countries over Russia and China an day of the week.

      Families have disagreements, sometimes serious ones. We still have far more in common than separates us.

      • “Size wise the EU is the same as the US and should be able to sustain the same military budges but does not come close)”

        Not every country is obsessed with military posturing. Some/most countries prefer to spend their resources on more useful things like infrastructure, education, universal healthcare, social welfare, and other things that benefit society. Some countries allow paranoia to supplant general societal wellbeing, and squander vast sums on defense overkill against imagined enemies…and, despite that, they find it difficult to actually win real-world conflicts.
        A question of perspective. The EU spends as much on defense as China does, and several times as much as Russia does.

        • @Bryce

          -> “Not every country is obsessed with military posturing …”

          There’s a reason why many European countries are at the top of the world’s best country to live, not the U.S.

          A look at life expectancy ranking (according to one I find online): Hong Kong, Japan and Macao are the top three. The U.S. is ranked at the 46th – surprise, surprise behind Cuba and Estonia, barely in front of Panama. But no, anything bad is ignored and disregarded by some because they refuse to accept it can be true!

          • I think that is what Roman Empire take was until the barbarians rolled through.

        • Pedro:

          Just following the heard. I expect Scott will crack down at some point and I will comply. I sense he is getting annoyed.

          note that unlike to many I don’t post off topic material until it goes off topic or has gone off topic.

          And I don’t see it as Scott wrath. I see it as Scotts blog and what happens when a blog gets hi-jacked and always goes off topic.

          Admittedly he is trying to thread a needled keeping politics out of it despite the fact that politics is a huge part of the Aviation world.

          The A330MRT is a perfect example of that. Many posters from Europe disrespect our procurement process without trying to understand it.

          Europe if the bids are open has huge offsets involved to over 100% of the program trying to force it into a jobs program.

          Its fine if they want to do it, we don’t have to bid on that sort of program either. Its Europe’s money.

          NATO cannot be a one way street either. So, sure, come up with a viable EU miltary (good luck, the US did that with the original 13 colonies and it fell apart, we had to revamp and decide that all the colonies (states then) had to give up power to a central government to maintain a cohesive defense and no one colony (State ) could veto a program.

          An EU army of 5000! That will sure scare someone.

          Viable? Probably 500,000 (air, sea, land)

          Equally in this there is a lot of anti US sentiment and I am not anti EU. Its sure better than what is further East.

          But inherent it has built in failure modes as seen with the financially meltdown in 2008. Ignoring that is not going to fix it. Nor having virtual dictators with veto power.

          • “note that unlike to many I don’t post off topic material until it goes off topic or has gone off topic.”

            Let’s see:
            -we recently had your post on the tilted 737-900 out of the blue in an article on freighters;
            – just before that, we had a story about your pickup versus your Passat (no aviation content at all there).

            Some introspection would go a long way 😏

          • -> “note that unlike to[sic] many I don’t post off topic material until it goes off topic or has gone off topic.”

            Just because @William went off the rails, you saw an opening to jump on the bandwagon and treated this section like your own blog and ranted, worse than those suffering from incontinence.

            Rather than criticize foreign entities for no respect, why not tell your Congressmen to stop treating federal spending as pork barrel??

          • @TW

            ‘Following the heard’ is another classic

            Bravo – and in fact true of some BA PR perople especially true

            A typo hero is something to be

            But cut the wartalk – yep – it’s dumbdong foolish, let alone Scott will press the button on you

          • @TW

            ‘Following the heard’ is another classic

            Bravo – and in fact true of some BA PR people especially true

            A typo hero is something to be

            But cut the wartalk – yep – it’s dumbdong foolish, let alone Scott will press the button on you

          • Bryce:

            Right after you posted a number of off topic items, thought I would join in and see what Scott does about it.

            You are by far the worst (but not only) offender.

            “Let’s see:
            -we recently had your post on the tilted 737-900 out of the blue in an article on freighters;”

          • I do think you guys are really starved for entertainment when a typo makes your day, happy to help out tough.

            Too bad you aren’t on my bicycle blog, Trails and Tibulations. My brother like it so I left it that way.

            some of the best phrases come out of a Typo and I believe I am the anointed King of them.

  9. The KC-Y is not going to be a split buy.

    It all goes to one and its touted as a KC-135R target, not the KC-10 (which has no peer fuel offload wise anyway).

    Range is not a factor in tanker ops. Number are.

    • Transworld, you over-simplify and make assertions.

      The KC-10 is aging, USAF are parking a chunk of the fleet. It exists to fuel large bombers – look at the fuel load numbers.

      USAF has strategic decisions to make, including continuing to have both large and half-size tankers, or choose common fleet. Reliability and supplier performance are factors.

      Do note the expressed need for the next generation is some stealth to support fighters which have short range, that suggests to me buying the big tanker now as bombers have range between refuelings, and half-size later. (Of course a big stealth tanker could handle several fighters but is more vulnerable.) Depends what the outlook is for life of KC-10, which is of course now a Boeing product.

      And note that in one of the go-arounds leading to purchase of KC-46As, Boeing had publicly mused about offering a tanker based on the big 777 airplane. Since the priority then was to replace the KC-135s that still had 707 vintage engines, the 767 made more sense as a start.

      • Keith:

        In fact I do not.

        Right now, the proo0sla for KC-y is an extension of KC-X, replace KC-135R (the numbers don’t add up but there it is)

        The KC-10 was brought into existence because of fueling issue over Europe during the 1973 Yom Kipper war and C5 to Israel.

        B-52 had been doing fine with KC-135 to that point and there are only 60 (or were) KC-10 in service. If there was a need, more KC-10 would have been ordered.

        So despite all the ups and downs of what was going to be offered, the RFP made clear it was a KC-135R replacement.

        And yes, the 767 is closer to that than the A330MRT.

        Equally your KC-10 is no good as a tanker for a C5 if its carrying cargo someplace (its way way way out of position).

        Mostly we need number of tankers (there is a reason we have 400 KC-135R) – those are also being upgraded because neither KC-X or Y replaces all of them.

        And you are not going to stealth tanker an F-15/22/16 as those are all boom receptacles.

        Right now a stealth tanker sans the small MQ-25 with hose and drogues is not going to happen.

        It may well be the best answer is the Adaptive engine that gives the F-35 much better range.

      • It will be news to the former SAC, which had bomber wings with one squadron of B52 paired with another squadron of KC135, that their tankers weren’t to refuel the bombers.

  10. Note that Rolls-Royce has turbine engine design and production facilities in the US.

    That’s the former Allison engine division of General Motors, which makes big turboprops such as on the C-130J, and sizeable turbofan engines used on business jets and small-medium airliners.

    • That has no relevance to the KC-Y program.

      The US would opt for the simpler lower cost all around GE engines on an A330MRT (not that we are going to buy the A330MRT).

      • What lower cost all round?
        The KC-46 uses Pratt engines. A Rolls engine would come from Indianapolis to fit the Buy American side

        • First lets be clear. This is no different than the so called offsets other countries demand. Some of them are over 100% offsets.

          To even move assembly of a Trent 700 to the US would cost a bunch.

          The lower cost solution in a very high cost non competitive operation to simply spec GE engines.

          The simpler lower cost two spool GE in this case beats the more complex costly RR engine head to head let alone the cost of moving production to the US.

          RR engine offers nothing and cost a lot more, for an overall negative, case closed.

          • Saw that, Dukeofurl can now be happy!

            I thought the PW800 was the better engine but factors of modification for the PW800 looks to have made it less attractive though its much newer.

            The F130 goes back a ways but has a good reputation on the 717 and various big Business jets.

            GE was clearly last with an even older engine.

          • Any large bypass widebody engine is ‘complex’
            Having a RR with 3 spools doesn’t make it more complex in the big picture…Its supposed to be shorter so Im assuming less fan blades/stages but has 3 internal shafts instead of 2.

          • GE offered the very new Passport BJ engine and the not so old CF-34-10.
            While the CF34 family goes way back the more recent RJ CF34-10 version is really mini CFM-56 ( check the stages layout, it varies quite a lot from its older siblings ) with all its reliability upgrades.

          • Duke:

            GE offered both, I had missed that.


            A 3 Spool engine is more mechanically complex and more costly both to build (and buy of course) as well as overhaul (more parts and more man hours due to complexity of tear down and assemble more parts )

            Its return was better SFC and less wear (more time on wing).

            That has long been surpassed by two spool. That is why ANA NZ gave up on the RR, it cost them a lot more and they got less out of it than the GE engines, price wise, SFC and maint wise.

            Like the 737, the RB211 should have been retired a long time ago and new architecture based on two spool implemented.

  11. It seems that, in terms of military projects, there’s now a certain amount of flexibility when it comes to the general mantras of “America, America, America” and “Built in America by Americans”.
    Lo and behold, Boeing has the following interesting press release on its website this morning:

    “Boeing Selects Australia for Company’s First Final Assembly Facility Outside North America”

    “TOOWOOMBA, Queensland, Sept. 22, 2021 – Boeing [NYSE:BA], in partnership with the Queensland Government, has selected Toowoomba as the preferred site for the company’s first aircraft assembly facility of its kind outside of North America.

    Boeing Australia will establish the facility in the Wellcamp Aerospace and Defence Precinct at Wellcamp Airport to produce and assemble the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (also known as Loyal Wingman), the first military combat aircraft designed, developed and manufactured in Australia in half a century. The aircraft made its first flight in February 2021.”

    The timing of this announcement is noteworthy 😉

    • Only to you in the conspiracy perspective.

      Boeing has been working with Australia on the so called Loyal Wingman (see note) for several years now.

      As they are paying for the program, they will of course build it down there.

      Australia generally leverages its military buys into work in Australia (C-17/P-8 aside.). Not sure if they do offsets.

      In this case they have a close working relationship with Boeing via the F/A-18 (two generations now) C-17, P-8 and the Wedgetail as well as the AH64 (dumping the Tiger that has been severely problematic)

      It is a major challenge as Australia population is so small. You get that created an industry and then its gone.

      Shipbuilding is a particularly hard area to do local in due to small number built.

  12. “It is nice to remind that Boeing has built more than 2000 tankers since 1946: KB-29, KB-50, KC-97, KC-135,” introduced 63++ years ago.
    ” KC-10, ” a McDonnel Douglas design, introduced 40 years ago
    “KC-767( 2 versions), KC-46.” both/all issues laden to no end.

    so why have the last two/three Boeing tanker projects come up as FUBAR?

    • B737 once was the safest commercial jet. Those were the days!
      The latest one had two crashes in two years after introduction.

  13. Airbus is full steam ahead talking up a low carbon future: H2, SAF and electric. (Not only talks but walk the walk!)

    How about BA??

    • B is busy sieving through the alphabet soup in order to concoct an acronym for its yet-to-be-announced environmental offering. Reliable sources indicate that the current frontrunner is FART: Fast Aerial Renewable Transport 😏

      • @Bryce

        Now BA has hit a new low : a fart aircart : perhaps this is indeed a new synthetic organic bio first

        Oh dear oh dear

  14. Breaking:

    A320 family production heading “north of 60” aircraft a month at the end of next year


    Lower for longer, like U.S. interest rate.

  15. Transworld and Dukeofurl.

    Yes all the electrical in the fuselage are new in the KC46, and explosion proof. Much additional mission dedicated tankage exists in both the forward and aft cargo bays. They are non-integral metallic tanks. The sequencing of their installation was very tedious. The decompression venting of the upper deck and lower deck prevents fuel vapor separation in the event of leakage. Compounding the explosion proofing of the electrical system is the existence of the Advanced Aerial Refueling Panel panel in the upper 41 section and the additional piping this requires. Connecting the AARP to the fuel tanks in the wings, center box and forward and aft cargo bay tanks is a large diameter fuel pipe running down the upper spine of the aircraft branching off at the mid fuselage and down the sidewalls to the distribution manifold and the tanks. There is a tremendous opportunity for vapors to find ignition sources, consequently all the wiring is now explosion proof. Please don’t tell me how you think it goes together, I was there……

    • Scott Correa:

      It helps vastly to know you were involved on the project. I have not seen any public documentation of what you are putting forth from an insiders knowledge.

      I defer fully to you in those tech aspects. If you want generator discussion and facility power transfer schemes I am your guy!

      Question: I am generally familiar with aircraft sections (42 being the nose)

      I gather then 41 is behind the cockpit and front of the cabin and the system runs all the way down the fuselage from there under the floor?

      AARP being a fuel collection manifold? More a large assembly of valves and feed pipes vs a panel in the electrical sense?

          • Perhaps Scott would be less likely to close comments if we were subjected to fewer anecdotes about your brother and his snowmobile, your ex-Russian vehicles, etc. 😉
            No aviation-related content at all there…

          • At least it’s aviation (and Airbus) related, unlike your frequent rant.

    • Of late, many/most of CNBC’s analyst discussions of Boeing tend to degenerate into outings of despair and exasperation…so Jim Cramer is just falling into line where that’s concerned.

      On this note, only 11% of US GDP comes from manufacturing, whereas the corresponding figure is 24% in the EU and 30% in China. Manufacturing industries in the US have long been in decline, as evidenced by the Rust Belt and Boeing’s continually shrinking share of the commercial aviation market.

    • And further continuing this theme, LOT is availing of the delay in 787 deliveries to walk away from an order for 2 of these aircraft. The reasoning given by LOT will probably chime with many other airlines, i.e. a lack of longhaul prospects in the short-to-medium term. It’s therefore likely that these 2 cancellations won’t be the only ones.

    • New definition of “modern”:
      Containing at least 8 Cat I deficiencies, at least 200 Cat II deficiencies, loss-making, called “lemon” by main customer…and with non-performing boom that damages stealth aircraft 👍
      Yes, indeed, BA certainly beats AB in that regard 🤔

      • We have already seen the alternate reality of “commercial success” – being called a succes at the same time admitting being a financial failure.

        • Pedro:

          Boeing has outdone history in that regard. I can’t think of a long production run (commercial success) that lost money.

          737 is at 10,800 is by far and away the most successful commercial passenger aircraft. Its even reviling some fighter production of WWII, exceeding the P-38.

          Financially at least the MAX is a disaster. I have not seen any figures on break even and I am not a financial guy so no idea, though it will pop up eventually.

          Do you assess the MAX losses into the whole 737 production?

          So, state your definitions then present a cohesive argument to support them.

          The A380 is a classic example of a technical success, commercial and financially failure (though in that case the two go directly hand in had)

          MAX has the numbers that normally would be a financial and commercial success , but it was shot down in flames by Boeing on the financial end.

          I can see where some people just can’t grasp complex world situations. Rarely is something black and white, tends to have shades of gray and the older you get the more you realize that.

          Boeing having done the same thing with the 787. Clearly its going to build to at least 1500 and I believe closer to 2000 when all is said and done. That is in 747/777/767 (A330 I suspect as well) territory.

          A380 is black and white. Airbus did not screw up the finances to the point it failed in that regard, they screwed up in the arrogance of an ego symbol (trying to copy the 747 model which was well outdated).

          Of course we can through in the 747-8 and stand alone or linked to all 747 production. Like the A380, the 747-8 is simply a failure financially and commercially though that too is direct linked.

          Like the A380 its a technical success and will be flying long after the A380 is gone (F version) .

          Like the latter versions of the Comet that had a successful service history. That being history though I am sure that falls off the radar.

          • Sept 16 from the same poster before performing mental gymnastics to duck and obfuscate:

            “I would call the MAX a commercial success and a financial disaster as would the 787 for different reasons.”

    • you probably look at this semantic partitioning, right:

      Boeing now makes more “modern tankers” than Airbus does!
      Boeing now makes “more “modern” tankers than Airbus does!
      I’d question that Boeing ever technically excelled over their competition.
      What they really excelled in was “out of band” outcompeteing other market participants. “full spectrum warfare”.
      But in the end they absorbed their local competitors ( and thus their fount of tech borrowing.)

    • You mean the “modern” tankers that fail to perform according to specs promised (a.k.a. lemon as named by a USAF General)?? 🤔

      • Modern and built to USAF specification which Airbus has not done.

        Never disagreed that Boeing has repeatedly shot itself in the foot.

        It is getting fixed, its being used more and more as it clears the benchmarks (those it can with the boom vision issue as well as the USAF caused too stiff a boom issue)

        Airbus screwed up on the A330MRT, it just never got published and it got cleared up as well. I give them mondo credit for getting the boom vision issue right (or if it was not they fixed it, we never have seen a report of the RAAF or anyone else’s issues with the A330MRT have we?)

        It was severely embarrassing to have a boom fall off (I believe that was a mechanic issue of not having it torqued right on install). Never got the full story on how an F-16 knocked a boom off.

        Resolved as it has not happened again.

        Airbus screwed up the A380 wiring (and some wing panel shimming). Both were worked out. It happens. Does not mean Airbus is inept (granted Boeing has been truly inept or worse).

    • “New build” tankers. 🙂

      IN relation to the Airbus product “modern, state of the art”
      looks a bit overstated.

  16. Sept 16 from the same poster before performing mental gymnastics to duck and obfuscate:

    “I would call the MAX a commercial success and a financial disaster as would the 787 for different reasons.”

  17. With regard to re-engining the B-52, the USAF has awarded the contract to RollsRoyce instead of GE: see Scott’s amazed Tweet in the LNA Twitter feed, and also this link:

    HOWEVER, in view of what happened the last time the USAF awarded a major contract to a non-US entity (ref. the A330 MRRT), we can now expect a circus of reviews, congressional interventions, lawsuits, etc., before the contract is re-awarded to GE; after all, awarding the contract to RR doesn’t exactly chime with the “America is back” minimal-required-content narrative.

    • I will hold you to that prediction!

      PW and GE have a right to contest the award per US regulations. We have to see if they do and if they do, what basis is. Like the A330MRT, it would have to be a substantial violation to overturn. Equally there may well be no violation (usually the loosing company(ies) then does not file).

      Its an interesting bid win in that RR has to move at least F130 B-52 production to the US. That will not be cheap.

      What the offsets are cost wise will be interesting to see. I am guessing the F130 fits the B-52 nacelle with fewer mods or internal only mods.

      Unless there are bid issues, I am all for it. This should have been done 20 years ago for the B-52. The UK has been a good ally (unlike others in Europe) and the BR725 (BR700 family) has a very good reputation. One variant powered the 717 which is very hard service and did so very successfully.

  18. If the Chinese want to reverse engineer this engine, as seems to be the fear, I think that finding a specimen to work from will be the least of their concerns – I think I read that 8,000 or so have been produced to date – and they had already received 4 before shipments stopped!

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