Pontifications: Teaming with Lockheed Martin for the KC-Y tanker competition

Last in a Series

Jan. 10, 2022, © Leeham News: Sean O’Keefe retired from EADS/Airbus in 2014. Boeing won the re-bid contract for the US Air Force aerial refueling tanker in 2011. The third round of the tanker competitions was every bit as bitter as the second round, which Northrop Grumman/EADS won.

By Scott Hamilton

Boeing is in the process of producing 179 KC-46A tankers, with about half delivered. Beset by delays, technical issues, and cost overruns, Boeing nevertheless has the presumed advantage of being the incumbent supplier.

Lockheed Martin/Airbus will offer the A330-200-based MRTT tanker. Most have Rolls-Royce engines. The remainder has GE Aviation power plants. The LMXT, as the new tanker version is currently called, will be assembled in the US. If RR engines are chosen, these, too, will be assembled in the US, Lockheed says.

Although O’Keefe is no longer associated with Airbus and he is not a consultant to or otherwise advising Lockheed and Airbus, LNA asked him what he would advise if asked after benefitting from the Round 3 competition.


“Well, I guess two things. One would be an internal [Airbus] recommendation of a partnering arrangement, a collaboration, that I think would be different than what we had with Northrop Grumman,” he said. He called the Northrop relationship “a very good one. It worked out fine in many respects, and that was a beneficial opportunity here to capitalize on that. But with Lockheed Martin, it’s a whole different opportunity, frankly, that I think, is really worth plumbing. It’s going to take some very serious discussions between Airbus and Lockheed Martin to figure out how they would want to manage this.

Sean O’Keefe

“Northrop Grumman was a systems integrator. It was their greatest contribution to the whole effort. There’s little argument on that point, that was one of the strong suits of what we could put together in this case. Airbus envisioned at the time was to essentially have the role of being the metal bender on the airframe, and, ‘We’ll deliver a green aircraft, and you guys do all the configuration control necessary in order to respond to the customer, the Air Force in this case, that you know so well.’”

Airbus wasn’t going to try to replicate that. Rather, O’Keefe said, the plan was for the two companies to divide responsibilities.

“That was the original idea,” O’Keefe said. But after the GAO upheld the Boeing protest that the USAF improperly added criteria to the competition without informing Boeing, “It didn’t take very long before [Northrop] realized this is just not going to work, because Northrop’s view was, ‘We got other fish to fry, other things to do and, frankly, and we just don’t want to take the trip down the road on what we think could well end up being a losing proposition.’”

Few downsides for Airbus

On the other hand, the Airbus attitude was, “We don’t lose anything in this. The mere act of making a run at this is a benefit and it really does a lot of things to institutionally build capacity and focus,” O’Keefe said. Airbus got to understand the US market better than it already did. Whether Airbus won or lost, the company would benefit. “It’s going to be something we’re going to learn a lot from and really have an opportunity to develop on this.”

Although Airbus learned a lot from the Northrop partnership and going for the contract alone was tempered by commercial factors, the KC-Y competition brought Airbus full circle.

Airbus had been watching the challenges Boeing had with the KC-46A program. Years late, billions of dollars over budget and beset with quality control and technical issues, Airbus and Lockheed joined forces in 2018 to offer the A330 MRTT to the air force in, of all things, a leasing deal. Nothing came of it then, but the partnership was set.

O’Keefe thinks lessons learned from the Northrop effort will be improved in the Lockheed partnership.

Joining with Lockheed Martin

Airbus’ internal culture clashes between the French and German entities are well known. The Northrop venture allowed the European cultures to acclimate to the American culture, especially in the Deep South, in ways that would not have otherwise. Lockheed will benefit, O’Keefe said.

“I think it is better than what it would have been otherwise had we not taken the trip on this collaboration with Northrop Grumman. I think, and frankly, being in Mobile, that really changed a lot in terms of the cultural advantage. Who would have ever imagined that given the sheer volume of German engineering and everything else that transferred between and among Hamburg and Mobile that you could check into one of the best hotels in Mobile?” O’Keefe said.

“It’s an easier transition to a Lockheed Martin in the sense that they are folks that, so to speak, as engineers speak the same language.”

O’Keefe sees Lockheed Martin as more politically astute than Northrop Grumman was. Northrop, he said, was in some ways naïve about how nasty and how political the battle would become.

“Northrop Grumman really downplayed it and felt as though that was not that big a deal,” he said.

Coming up: Next week we start a series looking at the competition from the Boeing side.

258 Comments on “Pontifications: Teaming with Lockheed Martin for the KC-Y tanker competition

  1. After a KC-Y competition win, nothing should prevent Lockheed/Airbus from offering a LXMT based on the A330-800 MRTT instead of the A330-200 MRTT — at no extra costs to the USAF.

    • I can imagine that the USAF would love that!
      Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as if the USAF has any real say in the matter, does it? Regardless of what the Pentagon decides, the actual contract will be decided in the buildings at the other side of the Potomac — whether officially or unofficially.

      • IMJ, it all depends on the RFP. If the DoD would protest-proof the RFP, the Boeing lobby would have a much harder time sabotaging a KC-Y contract for the LMXT this time around than what transpired after the 2008 NG/EADS KC-X contract win.

        • The RFP main focus says an existing built tanker.

          The details can be changed but that is fixed.

          There is also a timeline to deliver the tanker. Also fixed.

          The flouting of an A330MRT-800 is nothing more than speculative fiction.

          • The RFP is not out yet. What was released on June 17, 2021, was the Sources Sought Announcement for the Bridge Tanker Program.

            The “non-developmental” tanker is planned to be based based on “existing and emerging technologies”.

            A LMXT tanker based on the A388 should be doable for, say, $2 billion; or $8 billion less than R%D for the KC-46.

            As a commercial derivative aircraft, the Bridge Tanker will be based on existing and emerging technologies with a full and open acquisition competition. Neither developmental stealth nor unmanned capability is planned.


          • > The flouting of an A330MRT-800 is nothing more than speculative fiction. <

            Did you in fact mean "touting", or "floating", or..


          • And LM is saying they are bidding the A330MRT.

            Go wherever you want with it, but the reality is its A330MRT vs KC-46A.

          • MRTT conversion details are an _A330 family_ STC. i.e. less speculative than you postulate.

          • LOL>

            Speculative is anything other than an A330MRT CEO

  2. “Boeing nevertheless has the presumed advantage of being the incumbent supplier.”

    Define “incumbent supplier”…with emphasis on “supply”.
    Boeing still isn’t supplying — either in terms of promised numbers, or in terms of the functionality of what it’s “supplying”.

    This article from less than a month ago points to continuing delivery delays (including a production stop in September, when a plastic cap was found jammed in an internal fuel line) and, most importantly, states with regard to the well-known boom RV problem that:
    “The Air Force has said it does not expect to be suitably resolved until sometime between 2023 and 2024. Until then, these aircraft will continue to have an at best limited ability to carry out their core aerial refueling mission.”

    So, by the scheduled contract award date (2023), Boeing still isn’t going to be supplying what it promised back in 2011. Is that an “incumbent supplier”?


  3. If the KC-Y RFP will not credit the LMXT A332 MRTT for extra fuel capability (etc.), what are the options for LM and Airbus?

    LM and Airbus could offer an A310 sized tanker. The problem is, of course, that the A310 is out of production. However, Airbus already has an A310 sized aircraft in production — the A400M! (page 22 in the linked document)*.

    Option: Take the A400M and swap out the A400M fuselage with a significantly shortened A330 MRTT fuselage (i.e. A310 length) with the ARBS refueling boom attached at the rear. In short; attach the A400M wing, T-tail and MLG to the shortened A330 fuselage. OEW should not exceed 70,000 kg and MTOW would be about 165,000 kg. The fuel capacity would be about the same as the KC-46.

    Now, swap out the four TP400 turboprop engines with four PW1500G geared turbofan engines. The A400M wing has 15 degrees of wing sweep and should be good for a cruise flight of Mach 0.78 when powered with turbofan engines (i.e. Mach 0.72 with TP400 engines). In contrast, the Learjet 45 has 13 degrees of wing sweep and the Bae 146 has 15 degrees of wing sweep. The PW1500G engines would be attached on new “long” pylons in order to minimise interference drag between the wing, pylons and engines. In addition, the leading edge of the wing would be outfitted with slats (i.e. there are no slats on the current A400M wing). The cockpit would look like the A340 cockpit (i.e. 4 thrust levers, engine start set-up, extra buttons on the overhead panel etc.). Finally, in order to match the fuel capacity of the KC-46, eight 7,000 litres auxiliary fuel tanks would be installed on the lower deck.

    * https://aulaairbus.etsiae.upm.es/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/A400M-Design-Requirements-Conceptual-Definition.pdf

    • rather convoluted idea you present here.

      I’d assume that the LMXT offer has some superficial connection to what the RFP will ask for?

      • It may sound convoluted to Western ears as the proposed design is based on Soviet design principles (i.e. LEGO aircraft).

          • Two options for the tanker: The KC46; And the A338 with the best of the Three engine choice. Maybe this could replace the KC10, too, for some of the requirement. Make both company’s offer cost plus 10%. That way neither manufacturer will be too damaged by their own foolishness.

        • OV-O99:

          That is US shorthand for I am not buying it.

          It comes from a very funny comedian series done back in the 70s by a now sadly discredited Bill Cossby.

          • Pedro:

            Yes, it was my era and our humor – the sad part is Cosby went or was a bad human being but the humor is great.

    • what part of “non-developmental” is unclear to you? didn’t you get laughed out of the room enough last time you suggested this?

      the USAF wants an in production tanker not some bizzaro paper airplane that is too slow to keep up with jets on a trans atlantic or trans pacific mission.

      • @bilbo

        What part of “derivative aircraft based on existing and emerging technologies” is unclear to you?

        As a commercial derivative aircraft, the Bridge Tanker will be based on existing and emerging technologies with a full and open acquisition competition. Neither developmental stealth nor unmanned capability is planned.


        The KC-46 has now cost $10 billion to develop — a ridiculous amount of money for a supposedly “non-developmental” tanker.

        With the Jan. 27 announcement of a new $275 million charge on the KC-46, Boeing has now paid as much in cost overruns for the troubled program as the U.S. Air Force invested in the tanker’s development. The new charge, which the company reported as part of fourth-quarter 2020 earnings, means Boeing has now paid more than $5.0 billion out of pocket to pay for the myriad technical problems and production issues that have cropped up since the company won the program in 2011. Under the firm, fixed-price contract signed then, Boeing is responsible for paying for any costs in excess of the contract’s $4.9 billion ceiling.


        Now, my earlier A410M derivative aircraft proposal was still powered by four turboprop TP400 engines. This new proposal would be using four PW1500G geared turbofan engines instead with will allow for a significantly higher MTOW and cruising speed.

        Of course, all you luddites won’t like this: A state-of-the art derivative tanker aircraft that would have a smaller physical footprint than the KC-767; a tanker that would have a lower fuel consumption than the KC-767, while having an equal or better fuel offload capability than the KC-767; a tanker that would cost far less to develop than the KC-767 (i.e. $3-5 billion vs. $10 billion). 😉

        • OV-O99:

          Well if not buying into the Frankenplane of all Frankenplanes is a Luddite, the count me full in!

          That is way out beyond the orbit of Pluto reality wise.

          I understand you like to float ideas but to be taken seriously they have to be grounded in reality and that proposal is not (and that is being as nice as I can).

          • @Transworld

            Ok, so you are now the arbiter on who and what can be “taken seriously”?

            Hmm, what an excellent example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

            Now, ever heard about the Tupolev Tu-114?

            The Tu-114 used the basic wing, empennage, landing gear, and powerplants of the Tu-95 bomber, mated to a totally new pressurized fuselage of much larger diameter. To cope with the increased weight, increased landing flap surface area was required, and the flap chord was increased compared to the bomber’s flaps. The wing was mounted low on the fuselage, giving the Tu-114 a much higher stance on its landing gear than the bomber. As a result, a new nose landing gear strut was required, although the main landing gear remained unchanged.


            As for luddites in this context:

            1) Not wanting an Airbus manufactured tanker for the USAF (no matter what).

            2) Perfectly happy with the flawed KC-46 flying around with 50 year old engine technologies at KC-Y EIS.

            3) Perfectly happy with the USAF flying old aircraft in general, which is a paradox, since you luddites do seem the be concerned about wasteful public spending


      • @MontanaOsprey

        Yes, an advanced state-of-the-art Frankentanker that would cost much less to develop than the KC-46.

        • One of the major reasons for the worlds airforces specifying an ‘in production airliner ‘ as the basis for their tanker aircraft is so they can use the advantages of the civilian supply chain and overhaul network for for maintenance. The USAF is likely again to want FAA certification for its KC-Y like they did for the KV-46.

          The last adaptation of an airlifter for a tanker was the development of USAF C-97 double decker ( originally with a rear ramp to the upper deck) but based on the B-50 bomber, to produce the KC-97. It had fuel tanks in the lower lobe. In a sense all modern widebodys have a lower lobe/bay for cargo and fuel

          Also Boeing had a small run of double deck airliners of this type known as the Stratocruiser.

          • @Dukeofurl

            I don’t know what your problem is. Where do you get the “adaptation of an airlifter for a tanker” from? I’m not talking about using the A400M fuselage with the rear ramp.

            It’s specifically stated above that it’s the A300/A310/A330/A340 fuselage (architecture) that would be used (with the ARBS boom), but mated with the high wing and T-tail from the A400M; thereby creating a highly competitive state-of-the-art A310-sized widebody; by using large in-production aircraft components (i.e. shortened A330 fuselage, A400M wing, A400M MLG, A400 T-tail etc.) in order to manufacture a KC-46 beating tanker (i.e. smaller, better, cheaper).

            In fact, such an aircraft would obviously be FAA/EASA certified as it would likely be offered as a civilian freighter as well — i.e state-of-the-art replacement for the A300F, A310F and 767-300F freighters. Final assembly would also be in the U.S.

            Since production of the 767-300F will end in 2027, there’s a market opportunity for a state-of-the-art mid-size freighter entering into service at about the same time as the KC-Y.

            Furthermore, by putting part of the A400M manufacturing ecosystem in the U.S. (i.e. wing manufacturing moved to the U.S. from the U.K. etc.), the ulterior motive for Airbus would be to be better able to offer the A400M to the USAF in the future — using LM as the prime contractor.

          • OV-O99:

            Even Duke is looking at this and telling you its plane (sp intended) nuts

          • “.. so they can use the advantages of the civilian supply chain and overhaul network ..”

            Doesn’t work for the US use case.
            No current airframe will still have a supply/overhaul network available in 50++years.
            MRTT concept has the advantage of acceptable use volume in an acceptable lifetime. tech ( airside, groundside ) actually moves on.

          • @Uwe

            “Doesn’t work for the US use case.
            No current airframe will still have a supply/overhaul network available in 50++years.”

            That problem in its extrems is only related to KC-135 but not so for KC-10 with still about the same amount of civil aircraft in service. Last MD-11 was delivered in 2001 but the last KC-10 was delivered in 1988 to USAF. Still KC-10 has to be retired earlier than KC-135 due to its airlift capabilty. Airframe time is up for KC-10.

            KC-10 wasn’t an outdated aircraft at time ordered but the B767 was an outdated aircraft at time ordered (hint: 787). Also civil B767 production has to stop soon but A330 production will continue. There is not one civil order for the special 767-2C variant.

            In case of a Boeing KC-Y based on a 767 USAF will run into KC-135 maintenance costs.

            Btw. Boeing has the contract for maintanence of theKC-135 fleet…

        • OV-O99 was a big proponent of a twin engine A380 a monthly some other interesting designs (read that as ridiculous).

          I recall a kluge of an A330 nose and tail onto an A400 fuselage (never figured out what that fantasy was supposed to achieve ) but may not have been OV-O99.

          So yes its laughable but boy is he serious. Once he gets going, get off the highway, he ar a gonna run you over.

          From all the past designs Airbus just had to do, I would put Airbus into a 500 billion hole.

          • @TransWorld

            As usual you have problem being a), accurate; b) honest and c), truthful.

            The twin engine VLA concept was derived from the A380: All new wing 30 percent larger than the 777X wing (i.e. same 80 m span, but only 4/5 the size of the A380 wing – 670 m2 vs 845 m2). MTOW 30% higher than the MTOW of the 777-9 and 2 x 140,000+ lb of thrust engines (i.e. 30% higher thrust than the GE9X engines).

          • Why add a different wing and T tail to a A330 ‘fuselage’, when its already got those . The development costs would be massive and the USAF sure isnt going to pay for that when it wants to buy actual tankers based on in production designs.
            The A400 , like its smaller Brazilian counterpart, KC-390 can already be a tanker by just adding drogues. Theres your answer right there.

            As I had established before, the fuel offload of KC-46 and A330 MRRT is fairly similar. The belly cargo space in the A330 comes as a bonus.
            The size of the A330 wing is clearly bigger but its a minor issue as they dont dont to fit on aircraft carriers !

          • @Dukeofurl

            Quote: “Why add a different wing and T tail to a A330 ‘fuselage’, when its already got those “.

            Well, the A330 MRTT is an excellent multi role tanker transport aircraft. If, however, the KC-Y RFP won’t ask for extra capabilities over that of the KC-X RFP, then the A330 MRTT is too much aircraft — and to costly to manufacture in a price shoot-out. For example, the A330 has got a 360m2 wing. The wing area of the A310 and A400M are 219 m2 and 221 m2, respectively. The KC-46 has got a 283 m2 wing.

            By merging a shortened A33o fuselage, which has the Airbus ARBS boom (i.e. flow rate up to 1,200 US gal/min) attached at the rear, with the wing of the A400M, with two Cobham 908E wing pods installed on the outer wing (i.e. flow rate up to 400 US gal/min), Airbus can offer a smaller tanker that is as capable as the KC-46, but which will have a 25% lower fuel consumption than the KC-46

            Yes, you heard that right: Fuel consumption per hour: 4,000 kg per hour for an A410 MRTT that would be powered by four 20,000 lb of thrust PW1500G geared turbofan engines vs. 5,000 kg per hour for the KC-767 that is powered by two 62,000 lb of thrust PW4062 turbofan engines.

            Last time around (KC-X), Boeing was claiming that 767-200 had a 25% lower fuel consumption than the A330-200. With an A410MRTT having a 25% lower fuel burn than the KC-767, the tables would have turned with respect to fuel burn adjustment in the Adjusted cost for KC-Y.

            Quote: “The development costs would be massive”.

            Not really.

            The only new hardware required would be a new centre fuselage section. The forward and aft fuselage would be shortened — i.e. shorter A338 fuselage Section(s) 13/14 and 16/18. A new final assembly jig would also be required. The major cost for the programme would be for the military and civilian certification costs of the aircraft — $3 billion at most.

            Compare this to, say, the 777X where, among other things, the development of an all new wing and related wing production infrastructure, was required.

          • “Boeing was claiming that 767-200 had a 25% lower fuel consumption than the A330-200.”
            That could be true for the low MTOW 762.
            But KC46 essentially is a 763 with much higher MTOW, slightly shortened fuselage.
            A330 and 763 have in MOTW regime about the same payload range swap out @1.05t per 100nm.
            A330 has higher MTOW, higher payload and more range.
            The big A330 wing actually is a Good Thing (TM) in this context.

          • @Uwe

            AFAIK, fuel consumption is roughly 4500 kg/h for the 767-200 and 5000 kg/h for the KC-46.

          • 5t : IMU about similar for A332.
            go into the payload range tables.
            absolutely simple to extract the payload derate to gain 100 ( 500 .. ) nm more range.

            a pretty conducive metric ~matching fuel per hour. but it is easy to extract from widely available info.

          • @Uwe

            AFAIK, A332 fuel consumption is closer to 5,500 kg/h.

            Here are some figures from Delta Airlines:



    • haha, another Frankenstein Aircraft.

      So you take the old A300/310/330/340 fueslage, a turboprop shoulder deck wing, the A340 cockpit and maybe let’s dig out some stuff from the ME109 and the Spitfire, just because they have been sucessfull military airplanes.

      I apreciate your fantasy, that’s awesome. Might even work on airplane manager 3.0 game, but mate, they already have a superior product.
      The A330 mrtt is already there.

      Why would someone spend billions of $ to develop another tanker if they already have the best tanker available?

      What Airbus needs is a fair competition, not one that says the old B707 based Kc135 is the standart, and who ever can reach the baseline and who ever comes over and offers the best price will be bought.

      That’s like turning down a Ferrari in favor of a Honda Civic, just because the Civic can also drive 80.

      Karma has been a bitch on that nationalism, what here is politly described as “cultual differences, especially down south”. It was buy american, nothing else.
      So they got their crap, Boeing won the deal, is loosing money, and it will be fun to see if they learned from. Maybe they try to buy the best product this time.
      Maybe it will be the A330mrtt.

      • “Maybe they try to buy the best product this time.”

        The USAF tried that the last time, also — but its initial choice of the A330MRTT got scuppered at the other side of the Potamac.

        Perhaps the new geopolitical landscape this time around will cause DC to opt for a presently functioning tanker rather than a flying box of bandaids. That having been said, the newly concocted “ramp space” discussion suggests that that’s not going to happen.

        • Bryce:

          The A330MRT bid award by the USAF was deemed invalid by an independent Unites States Government agency.

          You don’t like our system, stay home.

          • You system sucks, make it better.

            The last PORTUS wanted to make it great again, the KC46 is a direct result of the greatness the US is striving for?

            Or is this when nations fall?

          • @Sash

            SHHHH …

            It’s a slow-motion train wreck while those inside are enjoying the ride … down.

          • “independent Unites States Government agency”

            It has already been repeatedly pointed out to you that the GAO isn’t independent — but that penny still hasn’t dropped, it would seem.


            “You don’t like our system, stay home.”

            Oh, no, we’ll be staying: LA and AB will be delighted to further distress BA by forcing pricing to a point where BA will incur more losses. After all: the best competitor is a loss-making competitor.

            That’s the thing about rigged tenders — they can come back to bite you 😉

  4. In my opinion best for the USAF would be a platform with more capability, flexibility and payload range. Meeting environmental requirements of the next 30 years, not of the past 30 years.

    An LMXT re-engined by GE or a 764ER/F based KC46NG, also with GENX engines would better meet future requirements.

    But the process / competition will likely make it impossible. KC135 capability (making MRTT too big) and lowest cost, while ignoring additional capability or environmental impact like KC-X? Making the USAF ending up with a suboptimal solution.

    The KC46’s PW4000 engine first flew in 1985? Entering service on the KC-Y in 2029? .. somehow something goes wrong.

    • “National security” is often used as an excuse to throw efficiency out the window: budgetary efficiency, logistical efficiency, environmental efficiency — you name it.

      The current US administration has pledged to drastically reduce CO2 emissions, but that seems difficult to achieve with huge armed forces that are still using very old engine technology (in all sorts of vehicles), and very wasteful practices. Nothing will change: one only has to conjure up the age-old idea that “the reds are coming” in order to force a continuation of the old way of doing things.

      “Report: The U.S. Military Emits More CO2 Than Many Industrialized Nations”


      • keejse:

        One thin you have to separate out from the USAF and optimal is the complete lack of intelligence and or that the leaders of the USAF are political animal, not interested in the benefits of the Service or the taxpayer. We get some functionality despite them, not because of them. They also set themselves up for a job post retire in the industry.

        Every few months the whole national USAF strategy changes.

        But as far as environmental? Tankers fly 900 hours a year (US Service). Not what I call a major impact.

        Also, the PW4000 engine has been continuously developed since 1985 (when it was a pretty bad engine along the lines of RR) and its consider a very good engine now.

        The Trent 700/800/900/7000/1000/TEN /XWB are all developments of the RB211.

        C-130 and V-22 engines date back to the 50s I believe but have been hugely changed over that time. PT-6 is still being made as its simple and extraordinarily reliable though not as good as others in SFC.

        In this case, the US has 400 KC-135R and the 179 KC-46A is simply not going to replace them (ergo a lot of life extensions and new cockpits and equipment etc for into 2060 service I believe now)

        Just in back line support the US needs 400 tankers.

        The front line tanker will be the KC-Z and who knows that looks like or is even viable?

        • “But as far as environmental? Tankers fly 900 hours a year (US Service). Not what I call a major impact. ”

          That’s for the tanker rule of a KC and that is exactly why USAF explizitly didn’t wanted a KC-135 tarmac queen again. USAF wanted an airlifter to reduce load on C-17 delivering parcels and troops.

          KC-10 showed USAF during war time operations how valuable a real airlift capability for a “tanker” is. Peak demand for airlift does not coinceed with peak demand for tanking as USAF mentions.

          The fraud of the last competition was to concentrate on tanking while the major use of the new KC will be airlift.

          • Indeed.
            The “multi-role” penny doesn’t seem to have adequately dropped yet…probably because of endless bureaucracy in the Pentagon.
            With the A400M, it’s a reverse multi-role: an airlifter that can also refuel using drogues.

          • MH:

            Once again I have to refute that. The US has plenty of airlift capacity cargo wise.

            It does not have as much tanker capacity as it needs.

            The RFP did not allocate a bonus for cargo. That means it was not deemed a benefit.

            The RFP did baseline on a KC-135 replacement.

            When the USAF gave Airbus a bonus for cargo that was not in the RFP, the GAO overturned it as in violation. Same for fuel carry. You are not allowed to give a bonus if its not in the RFP.

            You may not like it, but that is how the RFP was written and how the program was presented co congress, ie, a KC-135R replacement

            All the US has to do is activate or pull out more of the CRAF if they need more cargo capacity.

            The USAF chose to use the KC-10 when its reason for existence was supposed to be a big tanker. So they robbed Peter to give Paul a tour of the ME.

          • Cargo carrying as a benefit wasnt one of the reasons the GAO mentioned as one of its primary instances of improper evaluation

            There were 7 principle reasons
            1) Boeing met far more of the desired features and functions than Northrop/Airbus ( NR/AB)
            2)NR/AB exceeded the available fuel offload at the required range and was given credit when no extra credit was to be given
            3)NR/AB didnt show it could refuel all existing receiver aircraft under outlier conditions like max speed was insufficient in some refuelling process and didnt show it could met requirements in some breakaway conditions.
            4)Unequal discussion with Boeing compared to NR/AB such as not letting Boeing know in some instances when USAF found its bid insufficient so that Boeing could revise its submissions
            5)NR/AB didnt met the condition , despite requests, for a proper depot level maintenance to be available 2 years after delivery.
            6)Military construction costs in a complex notional evaluation
            7)Boeings estimates of life cycle costs were increased as they were found insufficient but didnt meet the correct method for doing so.


          • @Transworld
            “The US has plenty of airlift capacity cargo wise.”

            Read the following document and try to understand the difference between using an expensive and precious C-17 requiring refueling from US to Europa and a proper new KC.


            CRAF is needed because USAF has no proper inherent airlift capabilty. CRAF is paid per use. So why pay for CRAF in case USAF can use own aircraft?

            KC-46 will be a far better airlifter than KC-135 and a far less expensive one than C-17. Therefor KC-46 will be used as an airlifter not matter what any RFP says.

          • @Dukeofurl

            Nice – GAO 7 principle reasons

            1) Boeing met far more of the desired features and functions than Northrop/Airbus ( NR/AB)

            Boeing just claimed to have these features but are they functional now?

            3)NR/AB didnt show it could refuel all existing receiver aircraft under outlier conditions like max speed was insufficient in some refuelling process and didnt show it could met requirements in some breakaway conditions.

            KC-46 can’t refuel all aircraft today.

            7)Boeings estimates of life cycle costs were increased as they were found insufficient but didnt meet the correct method for doing so.

            I would estimate that the USAF even underestimated the costs for a extremly delayed Boeing tanker.

          • MH:

            It was not in the RFP, that is what counts not what some bench warmer thinks he wants because he has big eyes.

            That is why we have RFPs to its a known bid vs someone jumping in as they did in round 2 and changing it.

            You will note the USAF took over the C-27 program from the US Army and then killed it.

            Its a 4 engine C-130 or nothing as far as they are concerned.

            You will note the F-35 biggest problems was concurrent produion as put into place by the USAF. Everyone knows concurrent production does not work.

            USAF generals are as bad as Boeing management.

          • @ MH
            Yes, you really have to “admire” how dysfunctional a system is when it rejects an unexpected benefit simply because it wasn’t foreseen in the original tender request.

            Pharma rep: “Not only does our new pill cure HIV within 6 months, it also happens to cure any cancer that might be present.”
            FDA rep: “We’re not going to consider the cancer aspect, because it wasn’t in the original tender request.” 😉

          • @TransWorld

            You try to argue with RFP: RFP said refueling missions are restricted to 900 hours per year therefor a KC-46 will never do anything else. – Really?

    • You comment make me realize that Pratt will be a losser if Boeing is not chosen. This will shut them out of wide body.
      What are the chances Pratt comes in with GTF for 767? There are enough 767 flying in cargo version to take advantage of GTF efficiency and low noise. Very long reach here but could 767 with GTF and 787 flight deck be a possibility for commercial airline viability?

      • pretty sure Bjorn already covered this in one of the many NMA related articles and the answer was “no” a 767 MAX would not cut the mustard.

        • Tom:

          Keep in mind PW is the GTF maker right now as well as the F-35 engine maker (and probably a major uprage of that engine). So yes they could looose bussiness but it would not be a massive blow.

          That said the PW4000 has worked its way into a good reliable and good SFC engine.

          With 2027 looming, yes there could be a move to a GTF for the 767. I do not think so but if Boeing wants new built 767 after the backlog they would need to do something.

          PW has had a design ready to com out in that class for some time. Its not been built yet even in prototype but they do have the design and they will have kept reffing it with what they have learned on the PW1000 GTFs.

    • If it is really again a KC-135 capability RFP, then the LMXT should be based on the A321XLR. Strengthen the structure to allow an MTOW of the similar 146t of the KC-135. Airbus could possibly use this to develop an A322 wing free of charge and provide a tanker that is not oversize. They already have an assembly line for A320 family in the US, so it would be fully US made as well. And once the tanker is built, a P8 Poseidon competitor would be an option too.

      If the RFP is less restrictive on the capability, and allows for a bigger aircraft, then of course, the MRTT base is certainly the safer and cheaper option.

      • what part of “non-developmental” is unclear? the USAF specifying “non-developmental, in production tanker, minor mods for USAF reqs only”

        • On the other hand: define “non-developmental”.
          Is the KC46 “non-developmental”? It has a boom RV system that hasn’t worked from day 1, and that needs a major re-design before (nominally) being ready in 2023-2024. In any normal branch of engineering, that would qualify as “developmental”.

          • @Bryce

            The KC-46 has cost, at least, $10 billion to develop. @bilbo seems to believe that $10 billion is a normal amount of money for R&D of a “non-developmental” programme.

          • Does not matter, that is what the RFP is going to say, a developed design.

            As the A330MRT has NEVER met the USAF specification, that is iffy already. Allowed I am sure, but its sure as hell is not developed to USAF spec.

            So no, you are going to see an A330MRT VARIATION proposed. Nothing else, not a weirdly modified A400, not an A380, not an A350, an A330CEO MRT.

          • “As the A330MRT has NEVER met the USAF specification”

            Neither has the KC-46 😏

          • Bryce:

            Yes it did. Its failed the performance e part but it has met the specifications.

            I know that is hard for non technical types to get.

            Non FOD is a performance requirement, not a program bid specification.

            The tube leaks was a performance failure, the tubes met the spec, they failed to work correctly (and easily correct though it should not have happened)

            The A330MRT boom falling off was a performance failure, as near as I can gather it was not attached per the specification. No sure why the F-16 knocked the boom off, that may have been an air to air failure.

            The A330MRT had its issues that no one talked about (much like the A350 pain issue until Qatar Authorities grounded it)

            There would be a large number of issues for the Aussie A330MRT failing to reach FOC for 5 years.

            They clearly felt there was light at the end of the tunnel unlike the Tiger and NH-90 Helicopters they and others have dumped.

          • @ TW
            The USAF requires a tanker with a functioning boom.
            The KC-46 doesn’t have a functioning boom, and it never has had one.
            It therefore does not meet USAF specification.

          • the KC-X contract wasn’t looking for non-developmental. at the time of KC-X neither Boeing nor Airbus had an off the shelf product that met the requirements.

            by the time KC-Y goes to contract, Boeing will have an off the shelf KC-46 that meets the contract requirements and the Airbus MRTT is pretty close (would need some work on wiring separation and systems hardening, as well as a main deck cargo door)

            building a tanker out of an aircraft that has never been built as a tanker is certainly “developmental”

          • @bilbo

            Using in-service commercial aircraft as tankers were defined by the DOD as “commercial off-the-shelf aircraft”

            Independent analysis concluded that purchasing new, commercial off-the-shelf aircraft to recapitalize DOD’s tanker fleet is the least expensive option for recapitalizing the KC-135 fleet from a life-cycle cost perspective.


            Yet, the KC-46 has cost $10 billion to develop ($4.9 billion from the DOD and $5.1 billion — and counting — from Boeing itself). It was not meant from the point of view of the DOD that developing the non-military COTS parts of the KC-46 would cost so much.

            Quote: ” building a tanker out of an aircraft that has never been built as a tanker is certainly “developmental””


            This is all about combining two tanker aircraft into one (i.e. A4ooM wing and shortened A330 fuselage). Costs would be trivial compared to the cost of developing the KC-46.

          • @OV

            and slapping jets on a prop wing (a wing optimized for short takeoffs and M0.72 cruise which now you need to re-engineer to mount jets on and plan to fly at M0.85) then slapping a T-tail on that A-330 tailcone (just the structural loading changes alone makes that an all new tail) and finding a way to bolt together two completely different fuselage structures.

            the fact that they are the same diameter (almost) is absolutely meaningless. the A400 fuse is build around a floor that is low in the crossection, where as the A330 fuse has the floor half way up.. the whole structure is designed around that.

            oh, and we “only” need to design a new center fueslage section… only the most complex part of any tube and wing aircraft fuselage.

            sure sounds like a practically brand new plane to me.

            you really are living in a magical world.

          • OVO-O99:

            Costs would be insane to put together that hodgepodge of parts you are proposing.

            It would make the KC-46A cost look like the bargain they are.

          • @bilbo

            Are you being deliberately obtuse?

            Quote: “oh, and we “only” need to design a new center fueslage section… only the most complex part of any tube and wing aircraft fuselage.”

            It’s a modified A400M Section-15 (centre fuselage). It would be “circularized” with a new lower half fuselage shell and new MLG bay design (MLG retained) and with the floor at the same level as the A330 fuselage. The upper half fuselage shell — with the large cut-out for the centre wing box — would essentially remain the same.

            Quote: “and slapping jets on a prop wing (a wing optimized for short takeoffs and M0.72 cruise which now you need to re-engineer to mount jets on and plan to fly at M0.85).

            All Western turboprops have straight wings. The A400M is the only Western-built turboprop that has swept wings. Hence, this is an aircraft that is more akin to the C-17 than to the C-130. In place of the C-130’s straight, highly cambered wing, the A400M has a thin supercritical one with 15° of sweep. Instead of a fuselage-mounted horizontal stabiliser and elevator, it has a high-mounted all-moving T-tail. The propeller-driven A400M was built for speed due to the high wing design closely resembling that of a transport aircraft designed with turbofan engines* — the major difference being the lack of slats (i.e. no moving parts) on the wing’s leading edge and contra-rotating TP400 turboprop engines. In a turbofan configuration, the leading edge of the A410 MRTT wing would be outfitted with slats.

            *Page 11:


            Quote: “then slapping a T-tail on that A-330 tailcone (just the structural loading changes alone makes that an all new tail)”

            Yes, Section 19 would be modified for the T-tail.

            Quote: “and finding a way to bolt together two completely different fuselage structures.”

            No, the fuselage sections would all be circular in shape (i.e. diameter of 222 inches).

    • Maybe they’ll try to sell the USAF both the Pratt and a new engines.

      First deliver with the current engine and after the last tanker leaves the line, launch / present the opportunity to re-engine, expanding capabilities, protecting the environment for our grandchildren $$$.

  5. Matth, 146t is a bit far from the currently envisaged 101t, but the 322 wing free of charge would be the ultimate spin!

  6. Simple idea: borrow an existing MRTT from the RAF and have a showdown with a delivered KC46 for all significant capabilities to see who really has the edge (ignore capacity for now since the MRTT is the clear winner)

    • We know which plane would win, don’t we?
      But the KC-46 occupies less ramp space — which is the new buzz-term that’s being used to cook the contest 😉

      • A PW1500G-powered A400M-derived tanker (as outlined above) would occupy less ramp space than the KC-46.

        • OV-O99:

          What part of developed tanker do you not understand?

          She a no got a BOOM.

          • Again, the RFP is not out yet. Your second sentence is in-comprehensible.

          • OV-O99:

            Its as compressible as the monster aircraft you are espousing.

            The A400 in any form does not have a boom.

            The proposal is simply nuts.

        • Daniell EE:

          You know the RAF A330MRT would looseT out of the chute as it has NO BOOM?

          Ok, bring on the A400, which also has not boom, sigh.

          • “You know the RAF A330MRT would looseT out of the chute as it has NO BOOM?”

            The KC-46 has a boom…but it can’t be used. In essence, it’s just a useless appendage 😏

          • Bryce:

            Once again that would be a lie. It can be and is being used.

            The vision system has issues that has restriction on it, the boom is cleared to fill 70% of the world fleets right now. It also is released to fuel all in an emergency.

            Also it changes nothing in regards to the fact that the RAF can’t fuel USAF fighters or anything else as it lacks a boom.

          • @TW
            The boom also has a stiffness issue, in addition to an RVS issue. It scratches stealth coatings. It will take (at least) another 2 years to fix it.
            In other words, it’s a unusable lemon.

          • Bryce:

            Tell that to the USAF. They are using it. Granted you should be the first one they consult (LOL)

          • Then forget the RAF’s Voyagers and borrow one of the RAAF’s KC-30s. Seems to be capable of boom-refueling USAF aircraft already.

          • Why not using the NATO 330 MRTT’s instead of the RAF 330 MRTT’s They have the boom specially equipped for the USAFE aircraft in Germany, Italy and GB

          • All:

            Clearly some do not get sarcasm, and that was to point out that there are a great many false statements and outright lies.

            In this case there is zero benefit to a supposed fly off.

            We know what the KC46A does and we know what the A330MRT does.

            EU type may want to waste our tax dollar, I do not (and I gots more say than you do, which is not a lot)

            So get off the band wagon. Focus on reality.

            Write to congress and tell them you want a bonus for cargo and fuel in the RFP. Enough of a bonus that it flattens the bids.

            Good luck.

          • Oh dear…it looks like someone is a very bad loser when an argument goes against him…

    • Take the test article that does the automatic transfer programme 🙂

    • A fly off. Has been done in the past for the USAF, mostly fighters. But exactly the kind of real world competition one of the parties will try to block at all cost. Same with track record, efforts will be made to obscure it in the final selection weighing.

      If necessary, lawyers would force the USAF to ignore e.g. an auto refuel demo (https://youtu.be/eKZ30lMnl9w) because it’s not in official requirement.. and it would be left out of the requirement because the current tankers don’t have it.. Welcome 2022.

      • The definitive Airbus A330 MRTT with the auto refueling system as a standard feature and able to refuel ALL jet powered aircraft in the USAF and USN inventory I believe with te exception of A-10 (I stand to be corrected), is now fully operational with the Singapore Airforce https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30xyIeLUoyw

        • Yes, but it doesn’t contain the USAF “special requirements” 🙄
          It takes a LOT of time, money and skill to hide tequila bottles in tne fuselage…AB just doesn’t have that expertise.

          • Bryce:

            That was the 747-8 and I suspect they were Vodka bottles (I am sure they changed it so it was US content)

            But again, I can’t blame Boeing employees for drinking on the job. I was sorely tempted to. Frankly I would have had a bottle in my desk if it would not have got me fired.

            I didn’t have a fuselage to hide it in!

      • You do not need a fly off. Both aircraft have a solid basis for assessment.

        An A330MRT would actually loose as it does not have the jamming and Self Defense system that a KC-46A has nor the coms setup.

        This is all about price.

        Also, Airbus has major lobbyists as well and have had for some time (John McCain staff was almost all Airbus people)

        • “An A330MRT would actually loose as it does not have the jamming and Self Defense system that a KC-46A has nor the coms setup.”

          A KC-46 would actually lose because it doesn’t have a usable boom…in addition to five other Category I deficiencies.

          • Bryce: [Edited]

            The A330MRT would fail on systems and the KC-46A can fuel anything in an emergency.

            Without a fly off we know the exact status of both as does the USAF.

            A fly off tells you nothing. They had a fly off on the F-35 and its only just getting to win open bids.

            Its all about the whole package. A330MRT does not currently meet the Specifications.

            It certainly can be made to do so. At what cost is unknown as it never has.

          • @TW
            “The KC-46A can fuel anything in an emergency.”

            You’re contradicting yourself, as usual.
            Above, you said that the KC-46 can only refuel 70% of target aircraft types…and here you assert it “can fuel anything”.

            Your fantasy is getting the better of you. And your use of edited profanities suggests that your frustration is also getting the better of you.

          • @bryce, no he is correct. it is cleared to fuel 70% of the fleet in non-contingency (i.e. everyday peacetime) operations, and has been cleared for all missions in contingency operations (i.e. war)

            it has an entirely usable boom, for all aircraft except the A-10 (which is due to a USAF specification error regarding hydraulic blowoff pressure, not a Boeing error)

            the RVS is not as good as it was supposed to be, but is usable except when flying directly away from a low angle sun which causes glare and contrast issues.

            the big issue is that it was supposed to be much better than the KC-135 at not scratching stealth coatings, but in fact is only equally good. that is really down to the stupid USAF insistence on man in the loop control vs automated boom control with manual oversight. no human is going to be able to have the reaction time and potential granularity of control that an automated system would have.

          • @bilbo
            Seeing as the match-off contest proposed above is occurring in peacetime, the 70% figure applies — with “stealth” aircraft like the F35 falling in the unlucky 30%.
            So, just pick an F35 or F22 as the receiving aircraft, and see if an A330MRTT’s boom causes as many scratches as the KC-46’s…simple, isn’t it?

            Assuming, of course, that the KC-46’s other Cat I deficiencies don’t prevent it from participating in the match-off in the first place.

            As regards the wartime figure: the “reds” will be very grateful for all the nice scratches caused by the KC-46 boom…after all, every scratch further compromises the stealth of the craft.

          • “It certainly can be made to do so. At what cost is unknown as it never has…”

            The Airbus offer was to the same spec that Boeing tried to fit their tanker to.

            That Airbus price is known. And I’d assume that Airbus made an offer they could execute with some profit.

          • Bilbo:

            Thank you for a bit of sanity here.

            There is no purpose to a fly off. The USAF has issues with the Boeing vision system as well noted and its not cleared to fuel F-35A.

            It can fuel F-35B and C as those are drogue systems.

            The A330MRT is approved to fuel F-35A and F-22.

            You don’t have fly offs to prove something you know. That is just plane stupid.

          • Fly-offs are always a good idea to show actual performance instead of paper performance. More of them should have been done before governments finalized their F35 purchases — that would have been an eye-opener!

            The USAF would probably be interested in a series of fly-offs for the tanker contest…though BA would probably lobby very strongly in DC to prevent this. We know why, of course: when you’re offering a lemon, you have to do everything you can to disguise it as an apple — and to prevent that disguise from being compromised.

        • Thats why the US prime contractor is there to do all that military and refuelling stuff – supplied by contractors – to the airframe supplied by Airbus.
          The timeline gives 4 years from contract award for’ modifications’

        • Again – on the military side of which I know: How can you possibly imagine that Class One air forces such as the RAF, the French, the Australian, the Singapore have not equipped their tankers with what you call ‘self-defense and jamming system’. Of course they have – what they do NOT have is “official USAAF equipment”, which according to some is a good thing (but I have reservations over that comment!)

        • @Transworld
          Sir, you keep going on about the lack of self defence systems on the A330 MRTT , but that is not true. They might not (then again they might be) systems that the USAF wants but a number of such systems are available for installation on the MRTT tanker.
          Thales has their systems installed on at least the French Tankers

          and UAE is installing the Israeli Elbit J-MUSIC system on their tanker (in fact you referred to it a week or so ago in another post)

          Each Air Force requests and has installed systems they deem appropriate for them. Remember the Airbus offering in the guise of KC45 did win one of the bidding in the KC-X contest but was disqualified on a technicality. That Airbus offering must have had the requisite self defence and communication systems to have met USAF evaluation, and the Congressional Board that ruled against the Airbus award raised no objections about the electronic and communication suite that Airbus and Northrop were proposing to install in the A330 airframe.

          In my view, I think you are flogging a dead horse on this matter. The Airbus offering can come with any suite of self-defence and communications systems that the client specifies. If the Boeing product can have the USAF desired system installed with little or no issues, I am sure same can be done for the Airbus product.

          The real problem facing the Boeing offering currently, is the remote camera problem and also the lack of a tested and working automatic boom refueling system which the Airbus offering has certified and in service.

          Like you, I am an American citizen, but I think we should tone down on some of the jingoist rhetoric that peppers some of your comments. Keep up the spirited discussions but no need to overdo the flag waving.

          • Branaboy:

            You miss the point, several of them.

            There is no USAF spec suite (not just one system) installed in an A330MRT. Its all a bit here and there to each air force spec that operates it.

            Yes Airbus has been offering add ons for the systems as they realized finally (as did the air forces) it needed that to operate in a front line semi contested environment.

            And that means there is no A330MRT flying that meets the USAF specifications as an entirety. Some of those are still secret.

            Yes an A330MRT can be built to meet those specifications. But its a totally different FBW aircarft, so how those are met in some cases is going to be different.

            As for the coms and jamming and EW suites, do you use what Boeing used that is approved or do you use other equipment you have to prove works and then it has to work as a whole (not interfere with itself).

            In that regard the A330MRT would take development and proving that the KC-46A has already gone through and is working.

            That does not add in the costs of flying another tanker type with its own supply chain that has little or nothing in common with the existing (KC-46A or the KC-135R)

            Add in the work needed and LM and Airbus making any profit on the KC-Y program and it boggles the mind anyone think it could be competitive.

            To do so you would have to add a bonus for fuel and overall cargo out of proportion of the value.

          • It’s become a pain in the back to come here and go thru separating the wheat from the chaff (I’m reading from a mobile device with less viewable area than a laptop or desktop) especially when at one time 3/4 are posts from one poster, with some of them quite notably mixing misinformation, false info etc.

            @David Hughes


          • Nothing mixed about it.

            Failure to understand or want to understand on your part does not constitute a fact.

            If I am wrong then point out where I am wrong but statements that the boom does not work are clearly false or even a lie.

            The RVS does not work to specification, the boom delivers fuel just like it was specified to.

            That does not change the fact the USAF issues a pressure spec on the boom that was wrong.

            They have admitted it, they agree to pay for the fix.

            The boom still delivers fuel. It can deliver fuel to any aircraft in an emergency.

            So where am I wrong?

            And yes I will counter post any falsehood as well as lies.

            I concur with some posters and have presented counter discussion on aspects of how the two tankers differ and what you would have to do to make offsets to counter the lower KC-46A price.

            that is all fact as well.

            Airbus has used politics as well in the process, shrug. Two giants trying to out lobby the other. Anyone ever hear of McCaine and his Airbus lobbyist staff or Jeff Session (aka Senator from Alabama who put full political weight of a long serving senior Senator on major committees to support Airbus?)

            Surely all the EU types are not Naive to politics is part of the process?

            Taxpayers overall got a great deal we seldom see (the F-35 works but it comes at a terrible price to get there)

          • @ Mr. Transworld
            To be honest you comment to my post makes no sense unless you are telling me that to win the bid the flight control software for the A330 will need to be rewritten to comply with some mysterious USAF requirement that would enable the USAF mandated “black boxes” to work per USAF specifications.

            Using my understanding of what you wrote, that would negate your instance that the RFP is calling g for an already developed aircraft. In essence you are telling me that the USAF under the RFP terms is designing a brand new platform that is in essence nothing more than a Boeing 767.

            In that case why bother with the RFP, why not simply order more KC46A and be done with it. Airbus and Europe can live with that because as things stand they have been winning all competitive bids for aerial refueling tankers taking place globally.

            The number of orders may not match that for the USAF since all other air forces are way smaller, but I am sure Airbus will be happy with an additional 50 plus A330 sales in the next decade arising from the MRTT program.

          • @TW

            Your wrote:
            “Yea he laughed all the way to trying to kill the Hubble”

            Explain yourself.

          • @TW

            Who’s spreading half-truth and falsehood here??

            -> “The Air Force has decided it would deploy Boeing new KC-46 tanker *only in the event of a major war*, the service’s chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein said.”

            If that’s your definition of what works, I hope every aircraft of USAF “works” as good as you said about the KC-46!!

          • @ Branaboy
            “In that case why bother with the RFP, why not simply order more KC46A and be done with it”

            Exactly: no point wasting time and effort on a rigged PR circus.
            Still, as has been pointed out here before, the Pentagon and LM/AB will financially benefit from the contest in that the competition will force BA to lower its price — probably to a point where it can never make a dime on the project.

          • Lets just cut to the chase shall we?

            A competition is needed because the alternative is that BA would be able to charge pretty much whatever they want for KC-46 as bridge tankers.

            The only other possible aircraft to fulfil that role is the MRTT, hence a competition between the two.

            What will be the outcome?
            IMHO KC-46 at an honest price (more than current, but not too excessive).

            Why would Airbus / LM even bother? From the Airbus point of view, they might just win the contract, but even if they don’t, keeping BA from making much larger profits from future KC-46 is a win. Keeping them busy with KC-46 may also prove useful.

            For LM, there is the small possibility of a win, but it’s a chance to partner with Airbus with a view to a possible stealth tanker in the future while BA is still busy building KC-46

        • “An A330MRT would actually loose as it does not have the jamming and Self Defense system that a KC-46A has nor the coms setup.”

          I guess these systems are working right now on KC-46 because Boeing didn’t devoloped them and “only” put these boxes on the aircraft. This is no point for Boeing.

          • MH:

            You gloss over the fact that the spec is a suite of specs and you don’t just put one here and one there and it works.

            It has to work in its entirety (all suites) and it has to not interfere jamming with coms and any other suite involved including navigation.

            Boeing does not build the boxes, Boeing did integrate them and fixed the issues. One was the fuselage being used for an antennae that was interfering. That has been fixed.

            A330MRT has not done any of as a USAF spec so yes its a developmental aspect and a risk.

            That does not mean its not solvable but it is going to take time and money adding to the already much higher costs of a LM/Airbus bid.

            There is not enough justified bonus to add the fuel and cargo overall that offsets that.

            That is just a fact of reality.

          • “A330MRT has not done any of as a USAF spec so yes its a developmental aspect and a risk.”

            The KC46 currently has six Cat I deficiencies…some of which won’t be resolved until 2024 at the earliest.
            Therefore, *by definition* it doesn’t meet USAF spec, and is certainly “a developmental aspect and a risk.”

            Here’s a nice summary of all the sub-standard, sub-spec gremlins discovered so far:


          • @TransWorld

            “There is not enough justified bonus to add the fuel and cargo overall that offsets that.

            That is just a fact of reality.”

            Reality is something else.

            Try proper arguments instead of mystery boxes. You can’t even be sure that all these boxes work now on KC-46 because USAF won’t discuss that in public.

            Try to understand that KC-135 is a good tanker but a very uneconomical aircraft for USAF. An airlifter like KC-10 with a refueling capacity is a far cheaper option.

            CRAF is required because the USAF has no sufficient inherent airlift capabilty. So the argument because of CRAF USAF needs not so much airlift capabilty is wired. How much does USAF pay for CRAF?

  7. A fly off? Has been done in the past for the USAF, mostly fighters. But exactly the kind of real world competition one of the parties will try to block at all cost. Same with “track record”, efforts will be made to obscure it in the final selection weighing.

    If necessary, lawyers could force the USAF to ignore e.g. an auto refuel demo (https://youtu.be/eKZ30lMnl9w) because it’s not in official requirement. Making sure auto refuelling is left out of the requirement because the current tankers don’t have it..

    Welcome 2022. The USAF will congress’ playing ball.

    • keesje:

      That is the heart of the issue. Congress can influence the USAF, but once the RFP is written, you are not allowed to award a bonus that is not in it.

      Both Airbus and Boeing had full opportunity to critique the RFP in round 3. The USAF gave bonus credit to Airbus that was not written in the RFP in round 2, the GAO shot them down on that.

      If the USAF want to, they can add a bonus to the RFP that gives credit for more fuel, more overall cargo and the automated fueling systgem.

      I have never seen an RFP that gives so much in bonus that would overturn the lower cost in a cost shootout.

      The T-7A had some offsets in it, but none of them were remotely close enough to beat Boeing/SAAB on price

      I can argue successfully that the USAF round 2 was politician in the opposite way as the Airbus lobbyist and McCaine got to the USAF that had big eyes and wanted the bigger swank and then bent the rules hugely to get it (well tried).

      GAO took a bat and beat their knuckles and said you have to follow your RFP, you can write anything you want into it, but you can’t write stuff in after the bid that is not there in the first place.

      Boeing blew Airbus out of the water on price and met all the RFP points. Anything contended otherwise is sour grapes

      So yes, Airbus can lobby for credit, Boeing can lobby for none and congress can bend the USAF ear. Anyone thinks that this does not go on in Europe is Naive where there are no bids involved.

      Airbus has a free profit and Boeing is paying, shrug.

      But in a totally fair world is the fuel, the overall cargo worth the added costs to the US of an A330MRT?

      I don’t think so. Anyone can argue otherwise and that is fine.

      But, this is somewhat like a drag race that you try to make even. In a drag race you simply allow slightly different launch times.

      The tanker bid has far many more factors than a drag race and unless the two air frames are close to identical, you are not going to come out with an even bid.

      My opinion is that LM does not expect to win this. They are keeping their bid team hot, they are after a shot at KC-Z.

      I don’t think Airbus expects to win this either. They are letting LM spend the money and may well want to keep the screws on Boeing.

    • And this is supposed to qualify as a “non-developmental” tanker…

      • You guys just kill me. Cold, dark and my humor for the day. It may be more than I can stand.

        sigh. Ok, they knew early on.

        It was a USAF issue that the USAF is paying to have fixed as they MANDATED that spec.

        Buy you all just go ahead and stampede over that cliff.

        • Translation:
          You can’t counter the arguments with anything meaningful, so you instead resort to writing fudge.

          The USAF “MANDATED that spec.” and the KC-46 is STILL FAILING to meet that spec.

          • Bryce:

            No, the USAF made that specification and is paying to have it corrected. That requires design work, produion and fit as well as back fit.

            Boeing met the specification.

            Like the vision failure, it takes time to change a problem.

          • @TW
            “The USAF…is paying to have it corrected”

            You’re contradicting yourself again.
            The spec hasn’t been met…otherwise it wouldn’t need to be “corrected”.

          • Bryce:

            You really need to actually read what occurred. sigh.

            Ok, this is how it works (and I am going to be outlandish so it stands out).

            There are two types of contracts out there, one is build to spec (the buyer tells you what he wants and you engineer it to the current building specs).

            Or, the buyer says, I want a 10,000 sq ft warehouse and it had to be able to handle our freight ops. Bidder than figures out what the owner freight ops are, what the codes say for air flush and build it.

            The USAF does the first.

            In this case they specified that the boom would take 5,000 lbs of force before it gave way. Boeing as a build to spec mfg, delivered the 5,000 ft of force into the boom.

            It turns out that is NOT what the USAF wanted, but it is WHAT they specified.

            Boeing met the specification (Airbus would have had to do the same).

            The USAF agreed that it was their spec and that they were wrong and are PAYING Boeing to fix it.

            Boeing’s paying for their screw ups but the boom force spec was not one of them.

            Capiche? (so?)

          • @TW
            Regardless of whose “fault” it is, all that matters is that BA is repeatedly unable to meet the spec that is given to it — capiche?

            The A330MRTT has a fully functioning RVS on its boom, and it can even perform autonomous re-fuelling.

            The fault is with the incapable airframer (BA) — not with the spec.

          • Bryce:

            Drive on the wrong side of the road in your country and see where that gets you.

          • There we go again: when he can’t counter an argument with anything valid, he resorts to spewing irrelevant (and usually unintelligible) rubbish.

    • More (new arricle today) on this ongoing embarassment:

      “Air Mobility Command spokeswoman Maj. Hope Cronin said in an email Monday the Air Force has not yet accepted the completed design of the proposed replacement for the system, RVS 2.0, or closed its preliminary design review. AMC originally expected that review, held in May 2021, to close in fall 2021, Cronin said.”


    • “The KC-46 is a darn good deal! ”

      heh.. yeah they’ll have that FOD-ridden, Rube-Goldberg dog fixed up by FY2039, for sure.

      • Well the boom was a USAF spec that they are paying for and the rest have been dealt with other than the Vision problem and that has a fix the USAF like and has approved.

        Should it have had all the issues? No. some, yes, A330MRT had the boom come off twice. Learning curve stuff. They fixed it.

        So yes we are getting a good deal. Its approved for most missions and in a national emergency it can do all of them.

        How many A330MRT are they building a month?

        Kind of like the Sherman tank, not as whiz bang as the Panther, but it worked, it was easy to fix and it was there in vast numbers (and add a bit of Armor up front like they did and it was as good with better ergonomic and optics)

        Better a 95% solution you have in hand vs a 100% one that is not in your hand.

        • “How many A330MRT are they building a month?”

          How many on-spec KC-46s are they building per month?

          • Bryce:

            They are building 2 non spec KC-46A a month and the USAF is accepting them.

            Pilots are in love with it. Its so different than the stone age KC-135Rs that its like giving kids candy.

          • @ TW
            Semantics are important.
            The USAF is *taking* some of them (for test flights, etc.) — but *accepting* them isn’t something that will happen until all the Cat I and II deficiencies are gone. And that’s going to take another 2 years, at least.

        • > Kind of like the Sherman tank, not as whiz bang as the Panther, but it worked, it was easy to fix and it was there in vast numbers (and add a bit of Armor up front like they did and it was as good with better ergonomic and optics)

          Better a 95% solution you have in hand vs a 100% one that is not in your hand. <

          That's odd; you were arguing just the opposite the other day when I suggested the USAF buy
          useable, actually existing, cheap, capable, and effective aircraft instead of the overweight, complex-to-absurd-levels, vastly expensive, underpowered, and nearly useless single-engine über-dog [now-grounded] F-35s. But whatever..


          • coming up short on basic functionality is not a “95% solution by far.
            More like unsuitable for the job.

    • -> It’s groundhog day for the KC-46! The Air Force won’t approve the preliminary design review for the tanker’s Remote Vision System 2.0 because its worried it could be locked into paying for fixes for a complementary system.

      -> I’ve already been told by sources that I’m summoning dark forces by even mentioning this, but it sure seems like this panoramic display issue resembles the RVS issue and I hope this doesn’t mean that negotiations between the Air Force and Boeing stretch on for months/years.


      • Pedro:

        They have not agreed on the fix yet, nothing new there. They are on track and if you read the full original article the USAF believes they are on track just not in agreement yet.

        Much like the MAX grounding wire issue, Boeing had a fix, the FAA took some time to review it and approve it.

        I believe there are some interim software fixes in the mix that will help (not fully correct)

      • @ Pedro
        Here’s a more detailed link related to this latest screw-up.

        “WASHINGTON: The US Air Force has held off on approving Boeing’s new design for the KC-46 tanker’s beleaguered Remote Vision System due to ongoing technical concerns associated with the aircraft’s panoramic display system — a separate suite of cameras used to detect and identify aircraft approaching the tanker to get fuel.”


        And as background:

        “The RVS has suffered longstanding issues. The Air Force has maintained that the original RVS system does not provide quality imagery in certain weather and light conditions, making it sometimes difficult for operators to refuel aircraft and leading to increased safety risks.

        After years of disputes, Boeing and the Air Force reached an agreement in 2020 that the company would design a new “RVS 2.0” system comprising more modern cameras and sensors at no cost to the service.”


        All the while, not only does the A330 MRRT have a fully functional RVS, but it’s even able to perform fully autonomous fueling!

  8. I have to laugh at O’Keefe, round 3 was a price shootout and had nothing to do with anything else. And NG being naive, phew. Attila the Hun was naive? really?

    Also keep in mind Airbus walked about with 1.5 billion on Round 2 contract award.

    Now that is worth throwing a bid together and workign with USAF behind the scenes to cook the RFP, yea I can see that as a bonus.

    • He’s probably laughing much more at you, if he’s reading the site.

      • Yea he laughed all the way to trying to kill the Hubble.

        • What an ignorant comment.

          What has the Hubble Space Telescope got to do with this?

          Loosing the Columbia orbiter on his watch as NASA Administrator was probably a harrowing experience for Sean O’Keefe. Also, at the time he left the agency in 2005, none of the three remaining orbiters were ready to be prepared to be launched to rescue a stranded Hubble Space Telescope servicing crew in case of an emergency.

          • It’s quite the norm for him.
            He’ll gladly ridicule a US person / organization / project like this, but he’ll then whinge if he thinks others are being anti-American.
            When you think of it, it’s also rude and ignorant to continually deride someone who was kind enough to make time available to give this interview to LNA: if Mr. O’Keefe is reading the comments, he will hopefully realize that not all commenters here subscribe to such trolling.

            It was always bad, but it’s become explosively worse in the past few weeks — several commenters have noticed it. Maybe it’s season-related…who knows?

          • OV-O99:

            Its one reason I don’t like O’Keefje as much as his spin.

            O’Keefe was responsible for what happened under his watch and the culture that allowed the Columbia crash.

            Your reading into it that he cared is not supported. Its a bit like saying Calhoun cared about the MAX crashes.

            I found managers could care less and we are just cannon fodder for them.

          • @TransWorld

            You are not only highly ignorant about what actually transpired but also distasteful in your “critique” of Mr. O’Keefe.

            When Sean O’Keefe took the top NASA job in 2001, the space community didn’t know quite what to make of him. A self-described “numbers guy”, he was a management expert and his former position as the number two man in the White House’s Office of Management and Budget seemed just not to fit.

            His predecessor left a mess. Dan Goldin had been a hard-driving visionary, more adept at management by screaming around than by walking around. He had introduced the “Faster, Better, Cheaper” concept which produced a mixed record at best, but at least it started the agency on the path to smaller and more robust space probes, such as the wildly successful Mars rovers.

            Unfortunately, Goldin’s signature space transportation project, the Lockheed Martin X-33, failed miserably: it was never even assembled and rolled out of a hangar. They spent a billion dollars of NASA money and almost $400 million of company money on a pile of useless parts.

            The Columbia disaster not only killed seven brave astronauts, it destroyed the ISS construction schedule and budget. O’Keefe was quietly able to bring the international partners and the Congress into a process that revised the assembly plan and made it compatible with the new safety requirements recommended by the CAIB. When the shuttle returns to flight this spring, it will be due in large part to O’Keefe’s hard work and expert leadership.


            Politics, budgets, schedule pressure and managerial complacency all played roles in causing the Feb. 1 Columbia tragedy, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) said in its final report released today.

            The 248-page report, formally released at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT), lays out in detail what has already been said about what went wrong — both from a physical and organizational point of view — and lays out what NASA needs to do before it returns any of its three remaining orbiters to the launch pad.

            “The past decisions of national leaders — the White House, Congress, and NASA Headquarters — set the Columbia accident in motion by creating resource and schedule strains that compromised the principles of a high-risk technology organization,” the reports says. “The measure of NASA’s success became how much costs were reduced and how efficiently the schedule was met. But the space shuttle is not now, nor has it ever been, an operational vehicle. We cannot explore space on a fixed-cost basis.”

            “The past decisions of national leaders — the White House, Congress, and NASA Headquarters — set the Columbia accident in motion by creating resource and schedule strains that compromised the principles of a high-risk technology organization,” the reports says. “The measure of NASA’s success became how much costs were reduced and how efficiently the schedule was met. But the space shuttle is not now, nor has it ever been, an operational vehicle. We cannot explore space on a fixed-cost basis.”



  9. Scott:

    There are far fewer KC-46A build than delivered (59 built roughly)

    Of those I believe 48-49 are delivered.

    Half is 88

    • 53 delivered. Officially, I thought I saw somewhere less than 100 actually ordered for delivery.

    • Cool, its a really good and actually modern aircraft and I wish it full success.

      The A320 is 80 tech, the A330 reaches further back than that. Good for Airbus to have a couple modern aircraft in the stable.

      • Bad for USAF having ordered a gross of tankers with cable.

        (“cable” meaning no fly-by-wire)

          • Every civil aircraft needs EMP hardening to a certain degree, e.g. against lightning strikes. So what are you trying to say?

    • 20 of the -300’s and a couple of the ACJ 220’s.

      Slowly, slowly…

  10. Oh good, our Alaskan savant is back to explain it all to us..

    • Yes, the resident troll is back carpet-bombing everyone else’s comments…

      • Only the ones in error.

        I am flattered to be compared to a B-52 though.

      • It’s like an incoherent, trailer-park version of the R.o.b .

        Remarkable, and clearly a potential Dunning-Kruger award winner.

      • Bryce and Bill, watch it.

        TW, also keep it under control.


        • Scott:

          I am trying and have worked on the humor side.

          We do need some guidance from you though. Can I call out a lie when its there? A lie being that someone knows what the truth is and repeats the statement (the KC-46A boom does not work)

          Can I call someone Ignorant ? That is defined as a lack of knowledge vs say stupid.

          Many comments are clearly intended to provoke vs a discussion. What or where is the penalty for that?

          • That post sounds eerily like the type of thing that “a certain commenter from the past” used to post before he was kicked from the site.
            He, too, proclaimed himself to be a pillar of truth in a sea of lies…and he also started to reproach the site owner for not intervening for the cause of this self-proclaimed “truth”.

            Very disturbing indeed. Even the syntax sounds the same, e.g. “calling out a lie”.

  11. One potential headwind that the LMXT has, is the fact that LM’s reputation has been severely dented by the F35 debacle.
    Headlines likes this don’t help instill confidence:

    “Korean F-35 Fighters Grounded After ‘Major Systems Malfunction’ Leads To Belly Landing”

    “All systems had stopped working except flight controls and the engine,” Shin said, at which point the pilot made the decision to remain with the aircraft and attempt a belly landing at Seosan Air Base”


    • Bryce:

      That was brought up already and we have not a clue if its F-35 or a maintenance issue. That is why we wait for facts.

      The aircraft was fully controllable and they had time to put foam down and its not badly damaged. It may well speak highly of the resiliency of the F-35 systems

      If Airbus had not gone above and beyond on the A380, the Qantas A380 engine blow up would almost certainly have been a crash. 300+ very grateful people and thousand of family.

      Airbus in the bid gets weight in on the A400, A330MRT, the Tiger Helicopter, NH-90.

      What the RFP does is assign degrees of risk. As Boeing has built a to USAF specification KC-46A (48-50 in service) the USAF RFP will assign a higher degree of risk (a subtractor, aka penalty ) to an A330MRT as it has not been built. LM also gets a knock for the F-35 debacle and they also own the CH-53K now (not sure that plays into it). Other LM programs weigh in but I am do not have an assessment of their overall performance on their other contracts.

      I know it is hard for some non tech types to grasp but that is the facts.

      • Last time USAF correctly estimated that the Boeing proposal would have had a higher development risk. That risk was nowhere assessed in the RFP to calculate the final price. E.g. you are going to order a fleet of trucks. A’s truck is 10 % more expensive but B’s is 20 % of the time in the garage. Which one is cheaper in the end?

        • MH:

          That is true. Now the flip side is true and LM/Airbus would have to put their track record on the line.

          So, we saved money, the mfg is paying for the fixes and we have 50 or so flying and putting fuel into tanks. Not to shabby.

      • The F35 in question had a *complete systems failure*.
        A company (LM) with a reputation for that kind of shoddy design isn’t what the Pentagon (or any other national defense organization) likes to be involved in military programs — it’s a severe reputational scar.
        But then, in view of BA’s recent reputation, it actually only serves to level the playing field somewhat.

        I know it is hard for mechanics to grasp but they are the facts.

        • Bryce:


          The facts are that the aircraft kept flying and for long enough to foam a runway. Ergo, the fact is it did not have a complete system failure.

          We do know whatever went bang took out the landing gear. Period.

          We can assess it was flying well or the pilot would have gone out over the sea and punched out. They were not going to risk a crash into a population center of wipe out an airbase.

          Clearly you don’t know anything about mechanics or engineers and have with so many wrong statements, phew, I am glad I am me.

          • @ TW
            Read the link: every system onboard failed, except basic flight controls and the engines.
            That means no navigation, no gear lowering…just pitch, roll, yaw and thrust.

            “The F-35A was flying at low altitude when the pilot heard bangs, prompting him to check aircraft systems, Shin told lawmakers.

            “All systems had stopped working except flight controls and the engine,” he said”


            “Clearly you don’t know anything” about the incident, and are concocting things out of thin air in order to try to save face.

  12. The twelve years in development KC-46 is one of very the finest projects in the DoD’s
    development™ chain, in terms of achieving its design
    objectives; exceeded only by the truly superb F-35, now into its *twenty-first year* of development.

    Never-ending Cash Cow$ for the MIC, courtest of the
    US tax-donkeys, I mean citizens.

    “Money” can these days be magicked into existence
    at a computer keystroke, but *resources* cannot.
    We’re gonna need real resources (food, energy, shelter..) soon, not these gifts to the already rich..

    • Bill7:

      I think you are stuck in the past on both the KC-46A and the F-35.

      The KC-46A is returning value. No disagreement the vision problem is a negative, but its not remotely (pun) fatal and can be used in an emergency and the KC-46A is in service supply fuel to aircraft all over the US now.

      You should read the pilot reports on the KC-46A, as far as they are concerned its a marvel compared to the KC-135. Its not perfect but its not a boondoggle, Boeing has taken the hit for most of the issues (USAF caused one and are paying for that)

      The F-35 is gaining traction and has won two fully open contests and Germany is now eyeing it for the Nuclear mission. Spain is going to have to pick it if they want their carrier kept operational. Again its no perfect, but operationally its working and costs have come down hugely.

      And if you can’t see it you can’t shoot it and while the SU-35 has a radar signature of around 3 square yards, the F-35 has one of a gulf ball at worst, it might be more a BB. Reports are the F-35 can see 300 miles.

      And it has the missiles to reach out with Meteor and the AIM-260.

  13. Again – on the military side of which I know: How can you possibly imagine that Class One air forces such as the RAF, the French, the Australian, the Singapore have not equipped their tankers with what you call ‘self-defense and jamming system’. Of course they have – what they do NOT have is “official USAAF equipment”, which according to some is a good thing (but I have reservations over that comment!)

    • Are these other “Class One” air forces’ tankers fully EMP hardened? I’ve noted before, if BA can’t get 15% pretax profit on the KC=Y, “let it go”, and let it sandbag AB and LM! My two cents—and it should be the two cents of nearly every BA shareholder!

      • David:

        We just saw one of the Gulf countries ADD IR missile defense to their A330MRT.

        So clearly, some are not equipped.

        I have seen comments from Airbus about adding various features to the A330MRT which indicates they are not there in the first place.

        Like the KC-46A spec, there are secret clauses that involve any equipment and we don’t know what those are. Due to the major releases on the KC-46A, we can guess accurately at some of them.

        The other side is the difference between a Hodge podge of added suites and mfgs by (8?) air forces vs a from the start dedicated suite that works in unison as well as a standard that all the maintainers understand and know how to test and repair.

        The US has proven its suites work. How much testing others have done??????

        • If the hardware already works, integration in a different airframe is only a minor matter of correct location and such and some airborne testing. Its not F-35 level integration of highly complex and novel hardware in small spaces and the complex manoeuvres a fighter jet can do, its still basically an airliner in the type of flying a tanker can do

          • Duke:

            That would be wrong. Its some highly specific EW, Jamming and Comms suite. It all has to work integrated.

            You don’t just slap it in and good to go.

            Airbus has dabbled in adding stuff, but nothing on the record by them or anyone else that it matches the KC-46A.

            Boeing had to put the equipment in, test it and debug the issues of interference and problems.

            No one claims its an F-35 (though putting the F-35 SA into the KC-46A might be a heck of a good idea)

            Its still deeply technical and complicated and you never know when a surprise is going to hit.

            So not its not a slam dunk and it is a risk factor, actually a number of them.

            If there are offsets Boeing gets a bonus on the system in place and working and no risk involved.

          • Its not rocket science.
            These are long standing types of self defense electronics and flares.
            The parameters maybe be secret, and always being upgraded but not really some sort of of ‘unobtanium’ for the US major allies, and it certain modes of operation arent available for non US eyes then Lockheed will handle that end anyway. They would sure have experienced engineers have deal with far more complex integration than on an airliner body with its minimal electronic emissions in standard configuration.

  14. What should have /should happen.
    New NMA/tanker and engine in the style of KC135/707.

  15. I think deep down most can agree on two things. First: the LMXT is the better, proven platform for future requirements. Second: Boeing, its workforce & supply chain badly need and will get this government contract. Congress will make sure, again.

    If somehow USAF real world requirements will get a chance, the conclusion would be, Boeing needs to build a tanker meeting real requirements, surpassing KC46A capabilities.

    If Biden would change/burry the competition process, move the timeline 2 yrs and have Boeing build a KC47A; KC46 systems, 764 wings & MTOW, GENX engines, the MRTT vision, auto refuel system and boom, the American public / USAF would be the winner.

    But how to prevent Boeing celebrates & does a $3B stock buyback two months later?

    • keeesje:

      I am not most aparanalty.

      First, the A330MRT is at worst a good tanker and seems to be a very good tanker. For some reason, people shield Airbus and attack Boeing, so every Boein gissue is exposed (rightully) and Airbus is glossed over (not good)

      The KC-46A is a good tanker, like the KC-135, it may turninto a very good one. I am not glossing over its issues though those are mostly solved. The vision part clearly is the worst and a bad one.

      What you and others keep glossing over is that they are in fact two different catgroy tanker. Also the resources the US has that others have refused to build (a large USAF transport fleet and the CRAF).

      The KC-46A is focused on fueling missions, not cargo.

      Withing that sub text, the KC-46A is far better for cargo when it does it, it has a mian deck cargo door, the A330MRT does not.

      You don’t have to dig the cargo out of the belly, its on pallets or in Cans, you roll it out, pick it and on the transport.

      If you want to deploy say an Aussie squadron to Alaska for Red Flag up here, then you can haul squadron personal and equipment in their A330MRT. That works for them, they do a lot of out of area training.

      The US has a lot of in area presence and can and does train in Area.

      So what may make sense for Austlalia does not make sense for the US, we operate the tankers and our supply structure differently.

      If you are tanking a strike package, you want as many tankers as you can get not fewer. There are 42 A330MRT in the world, the US has 48 KC-46A and Japan has 4.

      Boeing can deliver a KC-46A ahead of airbus if the USAF is willing to release that slot (Japan x 4) as its in serial production.

      At worst each KC-46A is relieving a KC-135R to foreign service.

      Over time, the KC-46A is costing a significant amount less to operate.

      Like all things, good equipment can have its pluses and minuses and that is true of the A330MRT/KC-46A.

      And you can take two coutnries like Austrail and Signnpore and pari them up that the A330MRT works for.

      Or you can have a split like South Korea and Japan and each went with their chocie for different reasons. Very close to the same circusntaces and clealry different choice.

      In the end it really is the 90% solution and accepting the fact that you can’t have all features in a single hull.

      And how you try to balance an RFP with two different tankers.

      The reality is that Airbus alone cannot deliver an A330MRT at the same price Boeing can deliver a KC-46A and a combination of LM and Airbus is going to be higher cost still.

      If the USAF wants numbers of tankers sooner, then they get Boeing to crank up the 767 line and produce more.

      The first in service A330MRT to USAF spec would be 2029. In two years Boeing could probably me making 4 KC-46A a month (time for supplier spool up)

      I suspect at the time South Korea wanted their tanker sooner (which was a flip of the situation now).

      Israel wants KC-46A now, were turned down and I don’t see them talking to Airbus (yet).

      So as the one report noted, in some theoretical situations an A330MRT could drag a fighter or two from Hawaii to Asia. What that would accomplish is ?????

      Which goes back to its systems and ability to put some numbers into an area, that is not just a tanker issue.

      No, each tanker is somewhat different with its own features and abilities and neither one on the whole is better than the other.

      Clearly operationally right now the A330MRT is superior with its fully working vision system and one of its features Boeing has not even started to match is the auto fueling (how well that works and is used????) Are you not still going to carry fueling operators?

      • We might be bypassing the war fighter in all this considerations. An MRTT can deliver far more fuel to fighters, C17’s, B1 or MPA’s when 2000 miles out. That’s what really matters. Bang for the buck as a tanker.

        I’m afraid Boeing helpers are pressing the US Air Force at this stage to have them say they don’t need the fuel-range capability, because it can’t be more than what KC46 offers. And forget KC-10..


        The reasons MRTT don’t have cargo doors (like A330F’s) is operators didn’t order them. If you can simply move 35t on NATO pallets and have hundreds of seats/ stretchers additionally / permanently main deck, the business case for the cargo door/deck quickly weakens.

        On the KC46A lower deck is used for fuel, the MRTT carries it in its huge wingtanks, avoiding having to sacrifice the cargo deck.

        • No disagreement on the differences between the two.

          As for cargo, you will note I am saying overall cargo. Having been involved in cargo ops, I can tell you that loading an AMJ or a pallet is a lot faster on and off than the small belly cans and the space wasted is much higher in the small cans.

          What I do know is the USAF built a model of THEIR tanker ops so that Boeing and Airbus had a baseline for what the norm was for USAF ops (not France, UK, Australia, but US)

          Now this is from memory, but I believe that the Model said that USAF does not use the cargo capacity 75% of the time.

          So the cargo as even an offset is 25% not 100%. Is that enough to overcome a lower bid? No.

          Equally there was a range of missions, distances involved and how many fighters were in common strike packages.

          Boeing met the spec for that profile for USAF operations.

          Back to reality, yes you can add a bonus for longer ops but that means you have to change the model (and maybe it should be with China in mind).

          Reality was that a report was done a while ago on that same subject (non USAF) and it came out some and some based on what your base assumptions are.

          Can we use Guam? Japan? South Korea?

          Europe and the ME has not changed.

          So how much weight do you give A330MRT on fuel when its not a 100% but more like a 10-15% offset?

          Is that enough to overcame the lower KC-46A price?

          Or if you got it into the RFP would the combined be enough?

          It was not anywhere near close enough on the T-7A. There were offsets, but all others were much higher price than Boeing /SAAB and it was not close.

          Airbus and its supported in congress will lobby congress and the USAF as will Boeing.

          In the end we get the RFP and as soon as its released we will know who wins.

          But there is nothign simple about it.

          • This was and is my biggest point about the RFP that resulted in ordering the KC-46:

            “What I do know is the USAF built a model of THEIR tanker ops so that Boeing and Airbus had a baseline for what the norm was for USAF ops (not France, UK, Australia, but US)

            Now this is from memory, but I believe that the Model said that USAF does not use the cargo capacity 75% of the time.”

            This RFP was locking backwards on how a KC-135 was operated with its inablity to carry a decent amount of cargo – only some can carry 4 pallets. The RFP did not looked at how a new versatile aircraft will be used.

          • MH:

            You are correct, the RFP did not mention Cargo Ops

            You are obviously hung up on that.

            First and foremast, if you are carrying cargo, you can’t do a tanker mission (there is one exception in a tanker dragging a squadron out to deployment).
            (side note, I got to see that back in the early 70, working South of Eilson AFB, along comes a KC-135, 4 x F-104 or 106s (forget which) , another KC-135 – 4 x More of those fighters. 4 tankers and 16 aircraft, cool.

            So what you are saying is what the RFP should do in your opinion, and arguing that it was wrong. It does not matter what your opinion is, you have to argue on the RFP. That was what teh USAF publish (round 2 was the same, round 3 they just emphasized no bonus for cargo or fuel as that was two of the reasons the GAO shot the USAF down on)

            For the US, Cargo in a tanker is a nice but not a have to. I can see the utility for Australia and Singapore, both deploy and train outside their area and they don’t have the assets in place all around the world lie the US does.

            No one else has released any info on KC130MRT tanker vs cargo ops. So you have no basis as to how useful it is.

            However, the USAF put together its model based on its historical data. Cargo on the KC-135 is just like the KC-46A, nice to have, make use of the space at times, but not used enough to make it a bonus in an RFP.

            The US has 220 x C-17, no other country has more than 8.

            We have 52 (best I I can find) C-5M in service. Russia has a couple of AN-124 and no one else has anything even close (A400)

            The US has contracts with the US Airlines to provide support. It a basic minimum per year guaranteed. In turn, US Airlines in a time of Emergency will supply their entire fleet to the USAF (mostly its been Cargo)

            FedEx has 411 Aircraft that can run international missions.

            UPS has 288 Cargo Aircraft.

            While other countries do not have the Cargo Airlift the US, the US has a huge one. It does not need to haul cargo on tankers, it can when its convenient (dragging out a fighter squadron, a tanker squadron rotation)

            Otherwise the Tankers are stationed around the world and used in place as Tankers.

          • @TransWorld
            “Amateurs talk strategy. Professionals talk logistics!”,
            General Omar Bradley

            “For the US, Cargo in a tanker is a nice but not a have to.” – Definitely wrong. The C-17 fleet is running out of airframe time faster than expected due to parcel delivery (non outsized airlift).
            Did you ever read and understand what I posted to you several times over the years? “HEADQUARTERS AIR MOBILITY COMMAND WHITE PAPER – KC-X: THE NEXT MOBILITY PLATFORM – THE NEED FOR A FLEXIBLE TANKER”
            “So you have no basis as to how useful it is.” I do have it. See above.
            A C-17 with a decent load can’t reach Europe without aerial refuelling. Upgrade costs for 52 C-5M: $7.7 billion (2018) about 150 million per aircraft. BTW the first 120 C-17 did cost $43 billion in 1990 about $360 million per aircraft (~$770 million today). In case you want to make a point about a possible new military transport aircraft – A400M doesn’t look expensive against these figures.
            “The US has contracts with the US Airlines to provide support.” – CRAF – So you trying to tell us that wet lease is always cheaper than using your own aircraft?
            None of these aircraft will fly in contested airspace like the new KC can (KC-46 latch problem solved?). How high was the surcharge for CRAF for flying to Afghanistan in 2021?

            “Otherwise the Tankers are stationed around the world and used in place as Tankers.” – like KC-135 tarmac queens? That’s why the USAF wanted the new KC to do airlift before eroding away instead of paying Boeing far too soon for a C-5M like upgrade for all remaining C-17.
            Even during crisis more than enough KCs were available for airlift because peak demand for airlift does not coincide with peak demand for refueling. During Golf war one third of the KC-10 fleet was reserved for airlift only. During peace time you have an ample amount of unused KCs.

            “It does not need to haul cargo on tankers, it can when its convenient […]”
            Logistics is mainly about cost efficient solutions. A C-17 burns 66 t of fuel to move 70 t of cargo over 2.400 nm. For the same load an A330-200F needs about 50 t of fuel for 3.200 nm.

            No matter what any RFP or you said, Air Mobility Command will use the new KCs as airlifter more often than USAF for refueling.

          • @ MHalblaub
            Some people tend not to read at all.
            Others think they’re reading, but their comprehension skills fail them.
            You also have types that do read, but then auto-dismiss what doesn’t suit them.
            And you have types that “read”, but then forget within a few hours what they read.

            It makes it tough to have a discussion 😉

    • That’s a nice graph, which illustrates the predicament BA is in.

      However, he didn’t include the Max 7 order from LUV in it, in the <150 single aisle, but AB still holds a 2 to 1 advantage in that segment. They've got a problem in that niche, as well. The Max 7 vs the A319Neo is in their advantage (thanks to the aforementioned LUV) but when you add in the A220 line – which is just starting to grow under their leadership, it doesn't look good. It'll only get worse their too…

      The A321Neo is now above 3,400 units and the Max 10 is just under 500, about a 7 to 1 advantage.

      I'm not sure I understand his WB rational – I always thought it was the 787 vs A330Neo and the A350 vs 777

      • IIRC, the MAX 7 WN bought will have 150 seats.

        Any guess how many MAX are still in storage waiting for customers?

        • I swear, I’m gonna start an aviation blog called “Back of the Envelope” (dual meaning intended)
          (maybe Scott will allow me to be a guest writer, here…lol)


          BA delivered 263 Max’s for the fiscal year. If memory serves, at the ungrounding they had some 450 sitting on the shelf. (I know they delivered a few in 2020, but this is BATE)

          Using simple inventory/COGS calculations, they have about 190 plus whatever they produced during the year. If they made 10 a month, then they have ~310 sitting in the employee car park. 15 a month takes that to ~370.

          • It appears to have become an unloved outcast that few want — apart from the odd bargain hunter / uLCC.
            No wonder BA was “hungry” to cut a deal with Allegiant.

          • Another carrot, to keep hope glowing on the horizon:

            “Boeing’s workhorse 737 MAX jet could return to service in China, after being cleared by regulators in December, later this month, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

            Bloomberg News reported the plan is set to resume flights in the coming weeks, but no firm date has been set for its maiden commercial flight following nearly three years of grounding by authorities in Beijing.”


          • Frank:

            No problem reading between the letters as it were.

            I think Boeing is someplace between rate 20-30 on the 737 now.

      • On the subject of B falling behind A, let’s not forget the “China effect”.
        Boeing hasn’t sold a single plane in China in 4 years.
        On the other hand, 23% of Airbus deliveries in 2021 were to China.

    • I agree with the comment from Mr. Aboulafia. However, since the GE-McD coup detat, Boeing has been run by people who lack the motivation or skill set for development programs. Calhoun is no different from Stonecipher, McNerny, and Muilenberg. What they do is take an existing stable product, strip out any inefficiencies (often by waging war on labor, suppliers, and customers) and maximize immediate returns on an existing product.
      History has shown that this is not the formula for success in product development. For example, these guys will always choose the lowest bidder among potential suppliers. In an established program this eliminates inefficiency, but in a developmental program the cost of a supplier being unable to perform far outweighs any premium from a more capable supplier.
      Bottom line, the GE-McD virus has transformed Boeing commercial from a company geared to aircraft development to one tuned for efficient production of legacy models..
      But without innovation it will slowly bleed market share and MCAS itself into the ground.
      Boeing commercial looks increasingly like a sort of aviation “Walking Dead”. The brain has ceased functioning, yet the body continues on, animated and impelled to move by an innate and desire to feed.

      • John:

        That is accurate except the last part.

        Boeing has some very good products, no disagreement they have been severely hurt by Calhoun and his cronies.

        What is really missing for Boeing is an A321 competitor. Its bizzare but the MAX -8/-9 and even to a degree the -10, compete well with the A320.
        They have nothign vs the A321 and that is where Airbus is taking the contests. Boeing doing fine with all one fleet types (Alaska, South West, Alegiant).

        If they threw Calhoun and the gang out, Boeing would have a good basis as a decent number 2 aircraft mfg company.

        Basically the 4 you listed have been slowly killing the golden goose and went into share buy back and Dividends.

        How long Boeing can hang on sans some clean sheet A220/A321 competitors? Yes there is a ticking clock.

        MAX is back, the 787 should be (and its a very good aircraft, most versatile in production wide body wise)

        No I don’t know where the 777X is going and that market post Covid. It could be anything from a bust to a moderate success. Its not going to be a 777-300ER.

        Airbus dropped the A350-1200 (2000).

        But the heart of the market is the 787 and if Boeing can get that going and some upgrades to the -10, they still have an outstanding higher volume wide body.

        How long Calhoun last with all those losses? Stay tuned.

        • “Boeing has some very good products”

          If you have to lump in 3 models, to compete against one aircraft, how good is your product line up? It isn’t.

          If you look at the historic NB world wide market and go back to the previous variants, since there is some crossover history it’s the 737 Classic & NG vs the A320Ceo family – the scoreboard was pretty much even; 10,000 Ceo’s & 9,000 737’s were delivered.

          That makes the WW market about 20,000 jets (I guess MD had the rest) .

          Today, Airbus has ~7,800 total Neo orders and the Max has ~4,100. (backlog of 3414 & 659 delivered). Once you throw in the A220, that grows to 8.500.

          Think about for a second. Airbus is about 1,500 orders from guaranteeing they own 50% of the market for the next 20 years.

          The Max is a weak 50 year old design, that has been stretched as far as it can possibly be and it’s market share reflects that. It is not a good product. It also cost the company some $20+ billion.

          While the 787 may be a ground breaking design, it looks like it will never turn a profit. It’s down some $18-19 billion and the numbers don’t add up.

          Boeing uses program accounting to manage it’s products finances, which smooths out expenses over the life of the aircraft. Q4/2020 they took a $6.5 billion charge on the 777X program. That means that they will not recover those funds with aircraft sales. It’s a loss. A bust with a very weak order book.

          You say “Boeing doing fine with all one fleet types (Alaska, South West, Alegiant).”

          Boeing scratched LUV a check for $460 million (in addition to selling them Max’s at below market value) to keep them as a customer. Alaska bought white tails and Allegiant got a hummer of a deal. Ryanair, as well.

          But at the end of the day, all of this is hidden by the financials. We’ll see what happens when they come out.

          • Regarding the 777X, it’s now:
            – More than a year (Dec. 8, 2020) since the un-commanded pitch event occured during a test flight;
            – 8 months (May 13, 2021) since the FAA letter to BA “identifying 56 different hosted functions by the system, which on the 777X is of a completely different design from the 777-300ER”, and denying a TIA.
            And, yet, we’ve heard nothing about any progress on certification.

            Don’t forget: that fuselage rupture issue also hasn’t just “gone away” — no matter how much BA would like it to.

            So, that $6.5B charge on the program is almost certain to swell significantly. Either that or they’ve finally realized that the program is a non-starter — hence the recent announcement of the HGW 787s.

            AirInsight: “FAA is unwilling to certify the Boeing 777X”

          • overlap between 777X and 787 ( HGW or not ) isn’t all that large.
            But Boeing has a better chance of gaining new orders in the 787 domain, especially with an upmarked 787-10.
            Then closing the distance to the A359 provides for PR fodder. They need that.
            New orders is everything at the moment bringing in some cash ( existing 787 orders are “dry” in that respect and I doubt MAX customers (waiting,waiting,waiting) have large bills open at delivery as
            Boeing had pimped numbers in the past by moving incoming payments left and servicing bills outstanding right into the future.

    • Interestingly on that graphic – Gates has estimated the actual value of the order lost:

      33 aircraft with a value of $4.1 billion. The per unit cost of each 787 according to him is ~$124 million and change.

      Using the actual BA webpage of the backlog:


      They have a backlog of 411 units with a total expected revenue of $51 billion.

      Now, let’s be really generous and say that they will get $60 billion in total revenue for those aircraft, about a 15% margin over the Gates number.

      If you recall, the program has a deferred production balance of $18 billion, plus another billion added for the recent delivery stoppage. $19 billion.

      Boeing has to make a margin of about 1/3 on those sales of $60 billion, to zero the balance.

      I fully expect them to take a charge and write down the program. I wonder if they’ll do it in Q4/21, like they did with the 777X program.

      • Frank it’s these back of envelope big numbers that worry me the most. But apparently the “market” is steered towards looking at short term free cash flow, dividends and rosy outlooks, valuing shares. I’ve stopped wondering about these alternative realities..

        • Sooner or later, though – the chickens will come home to roost and there will be a butcher’s bill to pay.

      • in reverse: Mr. Gates took the backlog ( count, value ) and used his calculator: $124.09m each.
        33 frames for a sum of $4.1b would indicate $124.24m each.

        • Which is why I said give ’em $60 billion for the entire backlog (an implied price of $145.98 million per unit) and they still have a tough time clearing the deferred production balance.

          • This was “Klar wie Klossbrühe” from the day the DeferredCost basket size was known:

            Killing the learning curve via persistent and intractable production issues, which were officilly only recognized only when there no longer was a path open to ignore them. …
            Covid19 is a minor topping. effects are +/-.
            Compare to common interests with customers ( no want ) during/post the GFC.

  16. As usual, when facts come out it clarifies the situation.

    RVS 2.0 is on schedule and no disagreement.

    Its the panoramic camera system that is in dispute. I don’t know why the USAF cannot carve that out and implement the RVW 2.0 and continue to dispute the Panoramic system that per the USAF is not meeting specifications.

    Boeing may disagree but that is a separate aspect of the vision system that has just come to (you know it was coming) to light. Write it up that RVS 2.0 is approved and get it going and the Panoramic is still in dispute.


    • Its always ‘almost there’ that is the problem. But we all know they will get there its just the scrutiny is way up there while they make the journey

        • Duke:

          When I had a piece of equipment that was not working, the first thing you did was trouble shoot it and get FACTS.

          You could stand in front of it all day long berating it and it still was not going to work until you found the problem and fixed it.

          What we now have is a fact. RVS 2.0 is good to go. The issue is Panorama and the absurdity is why6 the USAF can’t carve that out, make the RVS 2.0 a go and legally disagree with Boeing on Panorama.

          There has to be a mechanism in the RFP to get resolution. So the USAF needs to get its ass in gear and make it happen, not berate the situation.

          Either the Panorama is meeting specs or its not. If its meeting specs and the USAF wants better, they they pay for it, just like they did with the Boom pressure relief.

          USAF management has a serious problem.

          • “What we now have is a fact. RVS 2.0 is good to go”

            RVS 2.0 is not “good to go” — it’s still in development:

            “After years of disputes, Boeing and the Air Force reached an agreement in 2020 that the company would design a new “RVS 2.0” system comprising more modern cameras and sensors at no cost to the service. *That effort is ongoing* and remains on schedule, said Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Samantha Morrison.”

            This is *in addition* to the panorama issue.

            “The two camera systems are separate but intertwined in the refueling process. The panoramic system is designed to detect and identify planes at a certain distance as they come in for refueling, whereas the RVS system provides video imagery that allows the boom operator to steer the refueling boom into a receiving aircraft and safely transmit gas.”


  17. Despite landing massive gross orders, BA’s net backlog stood at 4.250, compares to 4.223 of 2020.

    • And still not a single order from China.
      Which, in view of current circumstances, is not likely to change any time soon.

  18. Discussing KC-Y feels a bit like discussing a new car, how it should look like, how big, fast, while you know it’s already waiting for you around the corner.. And USAF is even forced to put requirements on paper.

    • keejse:

      Did you ever work on a bid?

      I have done hundreds of them. Some were penny anty and some were in the millions of bucks.

      Of course you write specifications. How the hell is someone going to know what you want let alone bid without them?

      The big bids we would have 30 contractors attend the go through of the building and systems that had to be upgraded. Everyone could hear all the questions (and ask question)..

      Then we wrote up the synopsis of the answers to those questions and that was sent to everyone.

      Then I (and two managers) would go through a check list of weight of the bid. There was a percentage assigned to each category (that was set by corporate)

      How they addressed the requirement had a lot of weight. Prior experience with like contract was a large one. What equipment they offered and how close it came to the requirements listed.

      We then compared our scores, discussed it as to why etc. It was amazing how close we were, some was a matter of managers view and some was my more tech take, but the scores averaged out to almost identical.

      The USAF RFP is not different (other than the secret provisions). You can’t have a bid unless the terms are clear and as we are seeing with the Panorama camera system, Boeing disagrees with the USAF on that.

      We have to see if the USAF is asking more than the spec of Boeing is being stupid.

      There should be a provision for resolution and not a clue why the USAF has not invoked it (which indicates to me they are wrong).

      This was a low price bid and Boeing is paying its penalties and the costs, but that also means they are not going to offer up more than the RFP specified.

      If the USAF is wrong and wants more, then they pay for it.

      • > We have to see if the USAF is asking more than the spec of Boeing is being stupid.

        There should be a provision for resolution and not a clue why the USAF has not invoked it (which indicates to me they are wrong). <

        I'm having a little trouble understanding this part- can someone please translate it to English? Thank you.

      • That comment would have been only 40% as long if the completely irrelevant/unnecessary life-story anecdote had been omitted from the preamble. Ah well.

        “This was a low price bid and Boeing is paying its penalties and the costs”
        – So is the US taxpayer: all that scratched “stealth” paint has to be repaired.

        This link contains an informative video that shows how much of a hazard the KC-46 boom is in real life re-fueling:


      • Not a new bomber…an upgraded old one. And Russia only has 17 of them.
        You’ll also note that this bomber is supersonic…a somewhat more worthwhile investment than subsonic frames.
        As Frank said: they spend just enough to keep the US on edge and sqandering billions.

        • New manufacture. Updated and upgraded. Aspiration for 50 some to add to existing hulls. Spit into a Hurricane and see how that works out.

          And for added fun


          You have heard of the Bear Bomber? Equivalent to the B-52, kept in servicing, and upgraded. 50 some.

          Of course these are the same Russian that smashed Chechnya back into the stone age, invaded and took part of Georgi and invaded Crimea and keeping it as well as Donblaas area

          • I suppose you spent the night fretting under the bed when you read this news, did you? The Russkies might invade Alaska at any moment — right?

            The examples you give prove that the Russians use this plane as a tactical bomber — it’s range makes it substandard as a strategic bomber. Logical, seeing as it has a whole bunch of CIS states along its southern border with which it has regular run-ins.

            You want to send a lumbering, subsonic, vulnerable B52 on a long flight in an age of cruise missiles and nuclear subs? Go ahead — spend 11 billion (plus overruns) re-engining a dinosaur that is of no longer of any practical use to the US. An example of paranoid inability to prioritize.

  19. I’m wondering what percentage of the comments
    here are now the work of our perspicacious Alaskan correspondent.

    • Bill7:

      I think more loquacious .

      I get that when when I am passionate about tech things , urban legends , falsehood, lies, rewrite of history .

      Those who follow the aircraft end chime in an concur the facts are correct (usually ).

      When wrong I saw so. I had the C-5 powered by CFM engines, it was the GE CF6 and I don’t know how i got that screwed up, but I did and I was wrong.

      In that case it would be defined as a falsehood. I thought the fact was right when it was not.

      I was one of those people who rated extremely high in reading comprehensions.

      I can read through a tech report and pick out the variances with facts, a bid document and the holes in it and a resume and tell you just how much real experience is there vs listed.

      In my technical life I was as close to Spock as you can get.

      I don’t do well in social smoothing of course.

      • Wow…it seems that someone really loves to blow his own trumpet: a long ramble that is of zero relevance to the discussion.
        Furthermore: I doubt if (m)any other readers here would agree with this very flattering self -image.

        This is becoming more bizarre by the day: it seems that you view this site as being some sort of personal blog!

  20. I still don’t really “get” Program Accounting, which seems to me to be based on generously
    optimistic projections biased toward the upside; and the assumption that there will be no downside (787, MAX, 777X, KC-46A) blips. What happens if or when when events don’t correspond to long-term, hypothetical projections?

    • They are adjusted continuously for each FY as the orders come in , or not.
      And when the costs blow out like they have they can use forward losses.
      Boeing also publishes along side its program accounting some traditional accounting numbers. You takes your choice.

      • I could use some of that there Program Accounting in my Own Life, Myself!

        “Here’s what I want/ hope / project will happen in My Grand Temporal Existence.. ; if it don’t work out, well Dang Me, and Hang the Taxpayers! ”

        Sweet Deal, for some.. all I want is the same ultra-sweet deal Boeing gets. 😉

      • DoU said: “You takes your choice.”

        Cool. Just tell me how to sign up for “Program Accounting”, because it sounds damn sweet to me.


    • Bill7:

      Program accounting is not what it does but what they do with it.

      Its nothing more than a massive tax dodge and it should be called on that.

      So while Boeing pays billions upon billion in stock buy back and large dividends, they pay no taxes.

      One caveat, its if they do not come out with new aircraft, the Buzzard comes home to roost.

      But a long line of CEO have kicked the program account can down the runway so far though we are seeing the consequences of that.

      The sharks have to be circling Calhoun as its under him the happy days ended.

  21. ‘How Much Does an F-35 Actually Cost?’:

    “..A single Air Force F-35A costs a whopping $148 million. One Marine Corps F-35B costs an unbelievable $251 million. A lone Navy F-35C costs a mind-boggling $337 million. Average the three models together, and a “generic” F-35 costs $178 million.

    It gets worse. These are just the production costs. Additional expenses for research, development, test and evaluation are not included. The dollars are 2015 dollars. This data was just released by the Senate Appropriations Committee in its report for the Pentagon’s 2015 appropriations bill.

    Except for the possibility that the F-35 Joint Program Office might complain that the F-35A number might be a >>little too low<<, these numbers are about as complete, accurate and authoritative as they can be.

    Moreover, each of the other defense committees on Capitol Hill agree or—with one exception—think each model will be more expensive. The Pentagon’s numbers for these unit costs—in every case—are higher.."


    Lookin' good ! (for the MIC)


    • Bill7:

      That is a 2014 document.

      An F-35A is running around 70 million

      F-35B: 85

      F-35C: 95 (that is from memory, will try to find that article that discuses the current costs and price.

      The latest F-15EX kitted out comparably to what an F-35 comes with its around 100-115 million

      One of those you have to do a deep dive to come up with apples to apples.

      • You’re confusing:
        (1) production costs, and
        (2) (recent) sales price to foreign forces.

  22. It becomes interesting if USAF studies 2030-2050 requirements, various scenarios, areal requirements and concludes e.g. it needs 100.000 lbs of fuel for a broad range of receivers during four-hour loitering missions at over 1,000 nm from its take-off point. And the ability to transport 30t standard pallets over 5000NM’s to preserve the C17’s longer. A bit like a KC10 e.g.

    Then Boeing & congress look at the KC46A and see it can’t do it…bring in the popcorn & beer. To watch tons of mud, flag waving and new fake requirements all over the place. And USAF / warfighter gets sidelined.


    • keeje:

      You can put out a simulation with conditions that drive the end result to anything you want.

      The KC-10 is long in the tooth and not supported well. FedEx is the last operator for them and they are being phased out.

      Unless it was moving a fighter squadron from one theater to another, it was tanking. And in many operations it had way too much fuel as they needed to tank a lot of aircraft, not tank up one big one.,

      You see the airlines moving to the smaller more flexible model. One huge thing like an A380 is awkward and has to fill its route. You can not shift it to another one, it looses money unless its full.

      If you station a KD-10 group from Anchorage to the Middle East to mvoe a B-52, it can’t carry cargo.

      The USAF has the system in place and working to hire a cargo aircraft no problem.

      You can’t hire a tanker aircraft .

      And that is where stargegy is. What works, what fits 85% of the solutions, what do we do about it.

      But the worst case is you send up two KC-46A to top up a transiting B-52.

      Thanks in the 767 class and the A330 class work better because they are small and more of them. A 777/A35 tanker is way too much with the 777 about equal and the 777X being a the same ref as the A330MRT is to the KC46A

      Boeing was ready to bid a 777 tanker if that is what the USAF specs called fro.

      The US force structure is simply not the rest of the work and it operates differently. EU is as large as US population its standard of living is on par if not better and it only has 3 Squadrons worth of tankers.

      While EU is horribly deficient regards to self defense, it does not have the cohesive government the US does and politically they can’t or won;t take those choices.,

      Other than the front line states, no one is even close to meeting the NATO 2% defense obligations and the US is at 3.5% (from memory its clearly higher)

      So a region like the EU really needs to have a conversation with itself and come to some conclusions that if things go hot with the Russian, Ukraine blow all the pipelines and Nordstrom 1 gets hut down and then the mess

      Russia attack Georgia , seizes pat of the country nothign happens.

      Russian attacks and , sizes Crimea and the Donbass region, nothing happens.

      And if the ball goes up EU will depend on US for 80%. Replacing Russian gas should be a Prime effort not shutting down Nuke Plants in Germany.

      And why wold you expose your economy in the fist place to Russian gas>

      • @ TW
        Scott told you a few days ago to stop the political rants — and, yet, you’re back doing it again, aren’t you?
        The last third of that post is your usual, jaded, knee-jerk, anti-EU ramble. This time, your paranoia centers on Russia instead of China and — of course — you have to bring Russian gas into the discussion, as well as Crimea and Georgia.
        The gramophone needle isn’t just stuck — in your case, it’s welded in place.

  23. A fine comment from here a couple of years ago:

    > sowerbob
    November 5, 2019

    Great article, simply BA’s accounting treatment is designed to hide rather than illustrate the true nature of their financials. Program may have a place but the arbitrary nature of the accounting block and the random use of charges makes it meaningless.

    The use and abuse of program accounting is just a means of dragging profits to earlier years and mask the upfront costs of developing aircraft. This has made sure that the executives are able to book profits earlier and pocket their juicy bonuses but the drag of amortizing the costs will be felt for some time. Add in the multiple charges it could be argued that they have serially understated the development costs across the board. Combine the two and BA accounts are at best a mess and at worst a cynical ploy to provide shareholders with a less than prudent view. >

    Regarding F-35 true costs: I’ll stick with Winslow Wheeler’s numbers for now.
    The notion that LM were able to halve or
    quarter (!) the cost of an über-dog F-35
    doesn’t pass the laugh test; after all being
    absurdly expensive is part of its job description..

  24. Comments are closed, again. Usual suspects are the reason.