HOTR: Lockheed Martin to split refueling tanker work between Airbus-Mobile and LMCO Marietta facilities

Jan. 31, 2022, © Leeham News: Assembly and conversion of the proposed LMXT refueling tanker for the US Air Force will be split between Mobile (AL) and Marietta (GA), Lockheed Martin (LMCO) announced today.

Airbus has final assembly plants for the A220 and A320 families in Mobile. LMCO has surplus facilities at its home in Marietta. A new final assembly plant and line will be required at Mobile. LMCO’s C-5 building in Marietta will be the site for the conversion and installation of military equipment.

“We will transition the assembly line for the A330s to the United States and transitioning all conversion lines from Spain to the United States,” said Larry Gallogly, director of the LMXT program. The A330 tooling and production lines moved to the US are for the A330ceo only; A330neo production remains in Toulouse. A330 MRTTs ordered by non-US customers will be assembled and militarized at the current facilities in Toulouse and Spain.

Transitioning assembly

Gallogly said that assuming LMCO wins the contract, the first few LMXT aircraft will be built in Europe as Lockheed and Airbus prepare the US facilities. US workers will go to Europe to work alongside those workers to learn their jobs. About 1,300 new jobs will located at Mobile and Marietta.

“We’ll try to source as much of supply chain in America, recognizing the existing supply chain for MRTT,” Gallogly said. The A330 MRTT comes with either the Rolls-Royce or GE engines. Regardless of which engine LMXT chooses, the engine will be assembled in the United States, he said. When Airbus offered the A330 MRTT in the previous KC-X competition, the GE engine was the one offered to the Air Force.


The Air Force hasn’t definitely issued a timeline, Gallogly said that based on its discussions with the USAF, the draft Request for Proposal should be issued late this year and the final RFP issued in March or April next year. The contract award is likely to be issued in late 2024/early 2025. The Air Force wants uninterrupted recapitalization of tanker fleet, so delivery is targeted for the 2029/30 timeframe.

LMCO didn’t announce a definitive timeline to have the Mobile FAL up and running. It took about 18 months to build the A220 assembly building in Mobile, the most recent construction project completed. Gallogly said initially it will take about two years to build the first US-assembled tanker. As the learning curve improves, this timeline will reduce.

Related stories

Boeing’s Plan

While LMCO says that based on its discussions with the USAF suggests a larger airplane is needed, Boeing at this point isn’t saying whether this is its understanding or whether it will offer a tanker larger than its KC-46A.

“Boeing is focused on the customer—what the Air Force needs and how Boeing can best deliver that capability. We are confident that the KC-46A continues to offer unmatched capability to the US Air Force,” Boeing said in a statement to LNA. “With 102 aircraft on order and growing international interest, Boeing’s KC-46A is proven and matured for the next stage of combat air refueling capabilities and airborne battle management, which will extend the Air Force’s ability to deliver critical fuel and information for decades to come.”

Florida company plans 100% aircraft recycling program

Separately, a Florida company and a trade group have joined to provide recycling services of 100% of aircraft, they announced last week.

Aries Aerospace and North American Aerospace Industries (NAAI) offers what they call the first-of-its-kind sustainable end-of-life aircraft services.

“The agreement assures 100 percent aircraft recycling, enabling the industry to advance its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals,” the company said.

‘There are thousands of abandoned aircraft all over the world, and the few that get torn down are only 75% recycled at best, with the rest going in landfills,” said Sven Koehler, CEO of NAAI. “Though we have a special focus on the aircraft in Roswell (NM), we have mobile teams ready to go anywhere in the world to recycle an aircraft.”

There are thousands of aircraft in storage throughout the world. Only a small number may return to service.

“The recycling process will include some of the recycled plastics going into the fabrication of plastic for new aircraft, taking the first step toward a circular, sustainable supply chain,” Aries and NAAI said. The two developed upcycling methods for “converting scrap materials into other products such as handbags, shoes, furniture, and watches. To further support the Social Responsibility aspect of ESG, the joint team is developing concepts for tiny homes and low-cost housing. NAAI and Aries are in talks with Habitat for Humanity to study how to use fuselages and other aircraft parts that might one day provide shelter for the indigent and homeless populations,” they said.

5G Controversy in the US

The United States continues to sort out the interaction between mobile telephone 5G technology and the effects on radio altimeters on commercial airliners.

LNA’s Bjorn Fehrm wrote about this here. He also assisted the Mentour Pilot in preparing a video which provides an easy and visual explanation. See this video about the 5G controversy.


158 Comments on “HOTR: Lockheed Martin to split refueling tanker work between Airbus-Mobile and LMCO Marietta facilities

  1. Someone mentioned that in previous discussion and it makes sense as a plan for a bid they are not going to win.

    caveat: Still need the RFP to be published.

      • Have to see, Sun just cleared up the fog, shame, it would have been nice though its 5 deg (F) something like -15C.

        We need to see the RFP. Otherwise its just nattering (on my part as well of course).

        LM is not going to win unless there is Credits involved, as long as they are in the RFP then that is fully legitimate.

        Maybe LM will merge with Airbus? That would be a stand up powerhouse of commercial and military.

        If they win I don’t expect they meet the timeline, LM has never been into the mod business. Airbus show for at least 5 years.

        Proximity is useful, not that I wold want to live down there.

    • Lockheed baby !
      They have a way of making their bid smell like roses even if its thistles.

      • In all fairness Boeing has turned on the spin machine (or it never stopped?)

        KC-46A, selectively mature program!

  2. Some real hair splitting on Boeing describing the Mature aspects of the KC-46A!

    Qatar has ordered 34 777-8Fs, with 16 options.
    And also 25 MAX-10s, with 25 options.


    Related: Airbus now also appears to be canceling Qatar A350 orders: of two planes waiting for delivery, Airbus has canceled at least one.

    • Any money up front ? If I was Boeing I would make sure the deposit was cleared before taking it all too seriously…and put their sales staff on trail commissions up to time of delivery.

      • Delivery of the 777-8F is slated for 2028 at the earliest — feel free to add 2-4 years to that.
        Qatar will be down on its deposits for a LONG time.

        And does anyone expect the MAX-10 to be on time? More frozen deposits.

        • Im speculating that its all just ‘reorganisation ‘ of existing orders for Boeing planes, with delivery kicked down the road instead of taking delivery now of existing planes like 787, 777X

          Qatar did have 60 777X (Passenger version) on order previously, so I can change the ‘speculation’ to dead sure

          • Hello Bryce,

            Re:”From the link: this isn’t a new order at all…it’s just a conversion.

            “Under a new agreement signed with Boeing, Qatar will convert 60 of its existing 777X family orders to the 777-8 Freighter with a firm order for 34 jets and options for 16 more”.

            According to the excerpts below from a Qatar Airways press release, and a Seattle Times story by Dominic Gates, Qatar converted 20 passenger 777-X firm orders to 777-8F firm orders, and placed 14 new 777-8F firm orders. Qatar’s combined firm orders for all 777-X variants has thus increased from 60 to 74.

            The following is an excerpt from a Qatar Airways press release at the link after the excerpt.

            “Qatar Airways will be the 777-8 Freighter launch customer with a firm order for 34 jets and options for 16 more, …”

            “As part of today’s agreement, Qatar Airways will convert 20 of its 60 777X family orders to the 777-8 Freighter. Qatar Airways is also ordering two current 777 Freighters – Boeing’s best-selling freighter of all time – to capitalize on the buoyant air cargo market. Customers from around the world have ordered more than 300 777 Freighters since the program began in 2005.”


            The following is an excerpt from the Seattle Times story at the link after the excerpt.

            “Qatar placed a firm order for 34 of the new Boeing freighters. However, 20 of those are converted from the airline’s existing order for 777X passenger planes. The result is a net boost to Boeing’s order book estimated at more than $2 billion.”


          • Hello Bryce,

            Re: “Delivery of the 777-8F is slated for 2028 at the earliest — feel free to add 2-4 years to that.”

            According to the excerpts below from a Qatar Airways press release, and a Seattle Times story by Dominic Gates, 777-8F first deliveries and entry into service are targeted for 2027.

            The following is an excerpt from a Qatar Airways press release at the link after the excerpt.

            “First delivery of the new freighter is anticipated in 2027.”


            The following is an excerpt from the Seattle Times story at the link after the excerpt.

            “However, the 777-8F is targeted to enter service only in 2027, two years later than the Airbus plane.”


          • That was the run of things back in 787 days.
            customers mostly morphing from delayed 788 to future 789 ( and thus much later delivery )

            Still wondering what unpleasantness lingers in the sand behind AAB to have Airbus create such a wide firebreak.

          • @Scott and @AP
            Thank you for the corrections/refinements.

            So, summarizing, this order is actually somewhat of a mixed bag for Boeing.
            Upside: A nice launch order for the new freighter, and an order increase of 14 units for the 777-X program.
            Downside: Another customer following the recent trend of downsizing orders for the passenger variant(s) of the 777X.

            It wouldn’t surprise me if Qatar soon converts (at least some of) the remaining passenger 777X orders into a larger number of 787s…though, in that case, BA had better prepare for some AAB tantrums, because:
            – Air New Zealand has just become the TWELFTH carrier to suffer from peeling paint on the 787 wings (see link);
            – AAB was previously taking his 787s from WA, so as to avoid the FOD issues in Charleston…but that option is now gone.

          • @Scott seems there’s talk of a 787-10 ER & possibly also a 787-9 ER.

            Is this recognition that the 777-8X is in reality dead in the water?

          • I wonder how many 777X deliveries are now successfully postponed, and when will the “net new order of 14 777Xs” be delivered? Mid 2030s the earliest??


          • @Pedro, Lets get some dates into this.
            1 The B777-9 maiden flight was January 25 2020 (over two years ago)
            2 The aircraft flew at the Dubai Air show in November 2021.
            3 Entry into service is probably early 2024, 2 years away.
            4 4 x Airframes have been produced.
            The aircraft supposedly was scheduled for Lufthansa delivery in 2020/21. Lufthansa is not upset over the lateness given the COVID situation. It’s an advantage.

            So Boeing has 2 more years to get the B777-9 into service that has been flying for 2 years already.

            The Boeing B787 took less than 2 years to go from maiden flight to service with ANA. That was a little rushed as we saw from the battery fires.

            I’m sure there is a lot of testing documents to redo and review etc.

            It’s likely to make in in 2014.

            Boeing needs to have the B777-8F delivering from 2028 because that’s when the ICAO CORISA regulations kick in for member states. 4 years is doable.

            At this point there don’t appear to be any show stoppers such as the A380-800 wiring loom disaster.

          • @will

            I was talking about QR successfully the number of 777X postponed by switching to 777-8F, in case it’s not clear.

            Instead of cherry picking what happened in the past (pre-MAX *crashes*, 787 delivery halted *since 2020* and BA’s C-suite came out to announce significant delay of 777X EIS), let’s look at facts on the ground:

            – BA’s C-suite admitted significant delay of 777X EIS

            – FAA test flight was halted and BA’s CFO admitted he had no clue when it would resume

            – BA missed its schedule to deliver the MAX 7 to WN as promised

            – BA had repeatedly missed its own schedule of resumption of 787s.

            – There are so many 787s sitting around that BA had no option but *paused* its production

            – customers with 787s delayed for over 12 months might pull the plug and walk away or demand huge compensation (as happened to the MAX)

            – The sky is blue, the Earth is round. BA is losing its credibility.

          • Sorry for duplication:
            ” [[and BA’s C-suite came out to announce significant delay of 777X EIS)]], let’s look at facts on the ground:”

          • For those who might not have been following this closely:


            -> ” Southwest Airlines Co. is frustrated by the slow pace of federal certification of Boeing Co.’s smallest 737 Max jet, an issue that could delay the carrier’s commercial debut of the aircraft late into next year.

            The concern stems from changes by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and lawmakers giving regulators a larger role in the certification, drawing out that process, Southwest executives said in a meeting with Bloomberg News editors and reporters Friday. Previously, Boeing had been allowed to oversee more safety decisions.”

            -> ‘ Boeing has told the carrier to expect certification “in the next month, or two or three,” Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven said. “In my mind, I’ve got it sometime in the first quarter.”  

            *Boeing had earlier indicated the plane would be certified by mid-2021*, Van de Ven said. A Boeing executive said last month the company was performing certification activities and expected to deliver the first Max 7 jets in 2022.’

    • I am not sure which of Boeing or Airbus has gained by wining or loosing QATAR as a customer…all my wishes to Boeing 🙂

      • Boeing is lawyered up on the contract side and their insurance risk assessors are likely at close hand.

        I think they will look at the risks of an arbitrary grounding by a minor aviation regulator and dispute settlement in their contract as well.

        Qatar had a reputation of being demanding and a bit flaky.

        In November an incident happened at Doha Airport. An Asian contact worker gave birth at the airport and put the baby into a waste bin. She messaged the father, also a contract worker, as to where the child was and left the country to avoid the jail penalty associated with sex outside marriage etc. Its sharia on these matters.

        The solution of the Qatar authorities was to force 18 women who were transiting Doha at the time to undergo gynaecological examination. Ten of these were Australians Sydney bound from a London to Sydney. They didn’t inform the women why they were being compelled to be examined. They merely knew they would be detained and removed from their flight in a strange country under strange laws if they didn’t comply. It had been a struggle to get back home anyway. Most submitted but they feel violated, trampled upon etc. A legal case is now brewing.

        This gives you an indication of how the Qatar state operates. The Qatari aviation regulator would be equally arbitrary.

  4. “Boeing is focused on the customer—what the Air Force needs and how Boeing can best deliver that capability. We are confident that the KC-46A continues to offer unmatched capability to the US Air Force,” Boeing said in a statement to LNA.”

    I think Boeing and its lobbyists are again telling the USAF and congress what it needs, and it’s right here: the KC-46A.

    • Agreed. At this point its a combination of a political battle as well as what the USAF currently wants.

      The USAF changes its mind as often as they change their socks so its a daily thing.

      They still have to justify it to congress.

      • There is a real nasty stink in the South China Sea. Not a lot of time to waste on this contract.

        • Mostly a US thing. ( Who will retrieve that sunk intact F35? )
          Egging on the fringe nations there just to p*ss on the Chinese is the next round in dysfunctional global politics.
          I do wonder what tools of torture RU has shown to have Biden step back from that box with Ukrainian matches.

          • It’s a global concern for anyone that believes in human rights and china not militarily invading Taiwan.

            So no, not just a US thing. Who will protect Taiwan, a peaceful genuine democracy. If it goes the whole region is open and Philipines, Japan, Indonesia become vulnerable and finlandised.

            Fuel tankers are a critical element of deterrence because they allow the projection of force and logistic supplies.

            These are people that can make a woman disappear for 4 years in solitary confinement without contact to her family or child or lawyers.

            I believe Germany sent 5000 helmets to Ukraine as a sort of token but blocked supplies of artillery from Estonia. I can understand why. Vladimir Putin well understands MAD If Taiwan goes everyone in SE Asia will behave as Germany. Fear behind a face of pacifism.

          • @William
            We should avoid discussion of politics here so as not to incur a reprimand from Scott.
            That having been said, since you bring up the subject, two small corrections in what you said:
            – Germany has a longstanding policy of not getting involved in any armed conflicts – so does Japan, for similar reasons. The “supplies from Estonia” to which you refer were actually from the UK, and they were “blocked” because the UK didn’t file a flight path with the Germans.
            – In the past, Germany and The Netherlands have actively helped Taiwan to acquire a fleet of attack submarines.

            Can we now get back to talking about aviation?
            Incidentally, I subscribe to your original point: with the world the way it currently is, there’s little justification for indulging in non-functioning military procurement projects that yield sub-standard products. The KC-46 is an example.

          • Bryce:

            Etu Brutai? (yea its spelled wrong)

            William is correct in that the RFP and KC-Y if there are fuel carry changes relates directly to operations in the Western Pacific.

            Previous model data used was a theoretic European centric and current ME ops.

            So yes, depending on the Model assumptions Pacific Ops which means China is what makes this relevant.

          • “So yes, depending on the Model assumptions Pacific Ops which means China is what makes this relevant.”

            That’s why LM is very cleverly pushing the LMXT as being a far more capable strategic tanker for Pacific use. Do did read the LNA article about that, didn’t you?

          • @TW

            Apparently the USAF doesn’t incorporate any “updated” model in its request for “bridge” tankers.

            Didn’t our poster used the same “previous” model data to justify picking the KC-46?? Now the USAF is saddled with KC-46 of *unmatched* capability!!
            What cones around goes around. Lol.


            -> “Australia was founded on an Act of Genocide…”

            Ignore your own history is not the way to go forward.

          • @Transworld, If China decides to invade Taiwan one can imagine Taiwan’s road, rail, bridges and runways knocked out by precision ballistic missiles etc. One would hope there were US bases available in Japan and Philipines but maybe they’ve been destroyed or the countries intimidated.

            The distance from Anchorage to Taipei is 7700km/4157nmi with a dog leg around japan. Seattle to Taipei is 9300km/5000nmi. Hawaii to Taipei is 8000km/4320nmi.

            A330MRTT range is 14800km/8000nmi.

            The A330MRTT can certainly midway refuel outward and inward bound bombers based in the US. It really needs to do two other tasks:
            1 Refuel C130J aircraft, likely the only ones able to find usable runways short enough.
            2 Loiter near the area refuelling US Navy and Royal Navy and RAAF aircraft to reduce their fleet aviation fuel usage.

            So I think a more capable aircraft than the A330MRTT is needed. Something that can fly from CONUS or Hawaii and loiter behind Taiwan.

            Hopefully the LMXT will have extra tankage and ideally have the more modern GEnX or Trent 7000 type engines that add 15% range.

            Overall it would be a loosing strategy to have to rely on US based tankers to loiter near Taiwan but it also adds conventional capability to refuel at extended range.

          • From inventor of “Secretary of Communications” to war games strategist. 🤣

    • > I think Boeing and its lobbyists are again telling the USAF and congress what it needs <

      Bingo! Twelve years now, since the über-dog KC-46A
      was "chosen".. mcBoing will have it workin' real soon
      though, with the USAF taking responsibility for the Rube Goldberg refueling boom..


      • I’d love to read an article, it would be a long one, on the boom. It would be fascinating how this problem developed.

  5. Bloomberg is now reporting that the KC46 RVS won’t be fixed until 2026!!!
    That’s a further 2-year delay on top of the recently stated date of 2024.

    “The U.S. Air Force’s latest schedule shows that work to fix, verify and install a remote vision system used to guide in-air refueling won’t be completed before 2026, 15 years after the Chicago-based planemaker won the contract.”

    • Good find on the KC-46’s Rube Goldberg ‘RVS’ system. 2026 now, eh ?

      Should be fine by then; we don’t anticipate any more problem$ ..

      • Yep!
        Another 4 years to develop just a vision system (on top of 11 years already past).
        No wonder there’s no sign of a TIA for the 777X: for that plane, BA has been asked by the FAA to address *53* points.

      • My understanding of a Rube Goldberg machine is complicated set up but finally does the job in a maybe unexpected way.

        • Regarding the nondescript qualifier “finally”, Woody Allen once said:
          “Eternity is a VERY long time…especially toward the end”

        • > My understanding of a Rube Goldberg machine is complicated set up <

          Fits the facts so far, no? 2026 for KC-46A RVS v.2, rev1 (and counting).. with the USAF on the hook for the bill, against the GAO's recommendation..

          great country or what / $hould be fine™

          • Not Rube Goldberg Machine but
            more like steam- or diesel-punk “thingies”.

            Looks intricately technical but is nonfunctional accessorizing. ;-).

  6. I would love to see the A330MRT win.

    I think the work it brings to the US offsets the lack of commonality.

    Also of major interest would be an apples to apples comparison on developing a USAF specification 330MRT.

    And then we can move the A330NEO program over here as well (works nicely into Mobile FAS ) – between the two types it would be economical though we have to see where the NEO goes.

    • Best value would IMO be a GENX powered USAF specific LMXT. A freighter derivative could also become Mobile specific.

      • does military aircraft engines need to meet commercial emission specs? new production after 2027? so the new engine choice would make sense

        • Hello David,

          Re: “does military aircraft engines need to meet commercial emission specs? ”

          ICAO emission standards do not apply to military aircraft. Hint: the “C”in ICAO stands for “Civil”.

          See the excerpt below from the EPA’s recently adopted regulation to meet ICAO year 2028 standards.

          “SUMMARY: The Environmental Protection
          Agency (EPA) is adopting greenhouse
          gas (GHG) emission standards
          applicable to certain classes of engines
          used by certain civil subsonic jet
          airplanes with a maximum takeoff mass
          greater than 5,700 kilograms and by
          certain civil larger subsonic propeller driven
          airplanes with turboprop engines
          having a maximum takeoff mass greater
          than 8,618 kilograms. These standards
          are equivalent to the airplane carbon
          dioxide (CO2) standards adopted by the
          International Civil Aviation
          Organization (ICAO) in 2017 and apply
          to both new type design airplanes and
          in-production airplanes.”

          • But the frames begin with that civil certification.
            Clashes or not?

          • FAA and EASA are safety certifiers and dont concern themselves with environmental standards

  7. Scott:

    Is the LM article intended to be behind the paywall?

    It does not say so but does not allow access.

  8. Also interesting is LM is not only not mentioning cargo, in fact they are talking about taking cargo ability away with two fuel tanks to replace cargo positions.

    As has been noted in the past, the cargo thing was vastly over hyped by the EU types.

        • That would be Walla Walla Washington State that is not a significant cargo ops

      • Bryce:

        Ever been to Alaska?

        Look up where Anchorage sits in Cargo movement.

        Not to mention my having worked at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (yes really, that is the “Official” name) from Oct 1989 to June 2019.

        • And, yet, despite having had all that cargo around you, you never learned to appreciate the merits of a tanker that could also carry lots of cargo 😉

    • A small change in Belly cargo positions. Of course the KC-46 has no belly cargo space at all because it’s all tanks already.

      I suppose Boeing once thought the KC-Y follow on tanker being a next size up might be the 787-8. It seems the idea of a complete clean start is totally out of the question even if they reused the now proven ? Refueling equipment and vision sytems.

      • “…if they reused the now proven…”

        Those clever people at KMC/NIAR (777-300) are just going to use the existing KC-135 boom and add an RVS; BA could do the same with a 787.
        Of course, what KMC/NIAR get done in 2 years will probably take 2 decades at BA.

    • A310MRTT had extra tanks (all 5 28t capacity added) in the belly and imu there was one design each for A340-200 and A340-500 done.

      the LMXT adds 12t to the native A330 tankage.

  9. Ok I give up Someone help me, please, “HOTR” means? Thanks in advance.

  10. “So yes, depending on the Model assumptions Pacific Ops which means China is what makes this relevant.”

    That’s why LM is very cleverly pushing the LMXT as being a far more capable strategic tanker for Pacific use. Do did read the LNA article about that, didn’t you?

    • Well there was the young bride who called her mother one day. Mom, Lars is complaining that I have scorched all he cookware, I don’t know what his issue is, it looks just like yours.

      Dear, you are using that stainless cookware we gave you for the wedding?

      Yes mom, of course.

      Well dear, we got that for you as stainless is easy to use and as you are just starting out, we felt it would be better.

      I am an experienced cook and I learned from my mother (you remember you refused to learn how to cook?)

      Yes mom.

      Ok, so, what I have is cast iron cookware. Yes it is black, but the fact is, its supposed to look black. If you understand how to use it and season it, black is acualy correct. You just to know what you are talking about, otherwise on the surface it looks the same from your standpoint.

      Oh mom, I am so sorry, you were right all along. I can see knowing the facts I could actually be a good cook like you are someday.

      Wonderful Dear, as long as you work on improving you can actually become good at posting (err I mean cooking) someday.

      Just remember, its not a cut and pasta world.

      • Another long ramble of totally irrelevant rubbish.
        What’s the link to aviation? Did “the young bride” eventually become a flight attendant? Or did she leave Lars and run off with a pilot?
        Spare us, will you?

        • That that commenter’s long-winded irrelevancies do not get [mercifully] moderated out
          of existence is a cause for wonder.

          Effing *cookware* parables, now?

  11. This was a good write up by TWZ.

    Of interest is the spin about the USAF telling LM not to mess with the boom. Really? Wow. What a load of hooey.

    That said, LM also claims the RFP will credit or maybe even baseline fuel offload. Entirely possible.

    If the fuel credit offset exceeds the KC-46A price, then Boeing would have no reason to bid, there is little or nothing they can do do improve the KC-46A fuel offload (cabin tanks are possible but that also gets into the cargo aspect and if that loss becomes a negative in the bid (ironically a deficit which can then drive the price UP. )

    And as valid, is the fuel carry a requirement that has no offset that drives the bid not to lowest cost but purely a specification? Don’t meet the spec and you cannot win on price.

    The RFP can also waiver the spacing spec. Or they can amend it for the RFP. Its not chiseled in stone. You just cannot do it unless its listed as such.

    If the Fuel Spec is deemed to supersede the loss of ramp space and infrastructure issues (hangars large enough) it is perfectly allowable for the USAF to do so.

    LM is counting on the bonus credits if not the fuel spec itself to offset the costs involved of a lot more expensive A330MRT.

    The USAF can’t have it both ways. If they want more fuel they have to pay for it and Boeing can decline to bid.

    It always been the issue with two aircraft that are not close enough to each other to be on equal footing bid wise.

    • Boeings never going to decline to bid in this area.

      My feeling is that Boeing will win some extra KC-46 but the bulk will go to LMXT and wily Lockheed.

      • Duke:

        There is a lot of merit in what you stated. As there are (or were) 400 KC-135R, the KC-X does not begin to replace that number, let alone the USAF stating they don’t have enough tankers.

        Under US procurement, they can extend contracts on the same terms. So the USAF could continue the good deal money wise they got on the KC-46A.

        And at the same time bring in LM/Airbus deal and even segment fleets to one theater or the other.

        I do disagree on Boeing bid aspect. If the RFP gives a bonus for fuel (and what cargo is left bearing in mind the ease of cargo main deck and the big door) then Boeing could refuse to bid.

        It goes back to what the USAF wants as there is a valid points made on range and fuel carry between the two and they are an apples to orange thing. Neither one is better than the other its situational. Would you rather have your kid eat one or the other vs none?

        LM is clearly counting on a bonus for fuel (ergo adding two belly tanks) and the range (again bonus).

        Boeing has to look at those bonus awards and if it beats their price then there is no reason to bid. They can legitimately campaign on the KC-135R are not replaced let alone the other needs.

        And its not like the KC-46A would be useless, the KC-135R will service into 2040 (longer?) and the KC-46A is the replacement.

        USAF could well look at the needs and extend that contract.

        • “So the USAF could continue the good deal money wise they got on the KC-46A.”

          What “good deal”?
          The KC46 is a dud, and will continue to be until 2026 (best case).

          • But a second tranche of KC-46A ( for the same or slightly increased unit price ) would give Boeing a chance to some profits.
            They’ll probably ruin that too. But chance they had .. and .. Ball kicked another two decades down the alley.

  12. Boeings never going to decline to bid in this area.

    My feeling is that Boeing will win some extra KC-46 but the bulk will go to LMXT and wily Lockheed.

  13. People, get back on topic or I will close comments. This post is not about a bride, cookware, lunar, genocide, etc.


    • @Bryce

      Here’s another ridiculous hit piece on Airbus:

      In this situation, you would want to avoid angering decision-makers and influencers in the new market, right? Well, apparently Airbus decided to do the opposite – just as it is trying to convince U.S. policymakers, regulators, and influencers that it is the right pick for a billions-of-dollars military contract, the company opened its first non-European base…in China, America’s greatest geopolitical and economic foe, and possibly a future military opponent, as well.

      Unfortunately, months into the competitive bidding process, Airbus leadership committed an unforced error. In the middle of January 2022, Airbus poked a stick into the eye of its potential American market by opening its first manufacturing plant outside of Europe – in China, a nation known for stealing technologies and for opposing U.S. interests. And while Airbus hasn’t announced what craft will be built or renovated at the facility, the Chinese fleet has many of Airbus’ A-series craft, including A330s.

      Again, why are these paid shills so mindbogglingly stupid and uninformed. The A320 FAL in China was opened in the city of Tianjin in 2008. The Author also seems to be unaware of the fact that the “Chinese fleet” has all the current Boeing “7-series” and Boeing has a 737 completion centre in China.

      • Apparently the authors of that article have not noticed that USA USA™ has been moving its
        productive capacities and most of its useful jobs to China for the last thirty-or-so years,
        and selling out the great majority of the now-immiserated American citizenry in the process..

        yeesh / carefully obtuse

      • @OV and @Bill

        The author conveniently forgets that — every MONTH — the USA imports about $45B worth of goods from what the article calls “China, America’s greatest geopolitical and economic foe, and possibly a future military opponent, as well.”

        Another error: “In the middle of January 2022, Airbus poked a stick into the eye of its potential American market by opening its first manufacturing plant outside of Europe – in China”
        He conveniently forgets that Airbus manufacturing facilities were operating in the US and Canada before that date.

        And this is the intellectual level of an “assistant professor”?

        • smoking low quality weed since 1962 🙂

          what Airbus “2022 new in China” facility is he actually referencing?

          Should one send him a list of US located corporations with a manufacturing site in China?

          • On that last point, for example:

            “GE Healthcare operates five global manufacturing sites in China, including a Computed Tomography (CT) and X-Ray sites in Beijing, a Bio-Sciences plant in Shanghai, ultrasound and patient monitor facilities in Wuxi, a filter paper facility in Tonglu, and a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in Tianjin.”

            Applying the assistant professor’s logic: GE engines should not be trusted on any military aircraft, due to that company’s egregious “collusion with the enemy”.

  14. Wow

    -> American Airlines orders 30 more 737 Max 8s and defers delivery of 787-9s that were set to begin arriving in January 2023 to 4Q23 into 2027.

  15. OPEC+ sticks to policy despite oil price rally

    Winter turns to spring. Oil price is staying or moving higher. No one listens to the POTUS.

  16. If Scott will permit an (aviation-related) excursion from the present tanker topic, this link contains the “Official Trailer for ‘Downfall: The Case Against Boeing’ Documentary”

    “They have, essentially, ignored the family’s of the victims.” Netflix has revealed a trailer for a provocative and chilling new documentary film titled Downfall: The Case Against Boeing, which just premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival a week ago. Following the premiere it’s set to being streaming on Netflix in February. Critics have said this is the kind of film that will make you afraid of flying Boeing ever again, if everything in the news hasn’t already made you concerned. It’s executive produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. Sundance’s intro: the film is a “comprehensive investigation into the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. Families of the victims relate the human cost of these tragedies, while aviation experts and former Boeing employees reveal what went wrong at the company, offering damning evidence of lies, negligence, and cover-up.” It “serves as a searing indictment of a once-principled company corrupted by the influence of Wall Street to prioritize profits above all else.” We need to stop this mentality.

  17. Frederic Horst, managing director consulting at airfreight analysis firm Cargo Facts, on Monday estimated that the all-carbon-composite A350F empty weight will be more than 8 tons lighter than that of the 777-8F.

    The operating efficiency of the two aircraft “will depend how that translates into fuel burn differences between the two.”

    • I hope for Boeing empty weight differece is much greater than 8 t.
      MTOW difference is 33 t (352 t vs. 319 t). 777-8F carries about 10 t more payload. The 15 t left than had to be fuel.

      It was stated that a full 777-8F has less range than an A350F. Say about the same range. Therefor Boeing’s freighter requires 15 t more fuel for about 10 % more payload (~120 t / 110t). 777F has an OEW of 144 t + 120 t payload + 88 t of fuel to reach 352 t MTOW. A350 would then be 136 t + 110 t payload 73 t fuel. 777-8F would require 13 % more fuel.

      Just raise OEW by 4 t for the GE9X.
      OEW of 148 t + 120 t payload + 84 t of fuel to reach 352 t MTOW. A350 would then be 140 t + 110 t payload 69 t fuel. 777-8F would require then 21 % more fuel to deliver just 10 % more payload.

      • i seem to have seen MTOW numbers around 365t given. ( i.e. 11..12t markup from the 77W/777X “known” values.)
        You’ll not get by with 8t OEW difference. not by a largish margin.
        777X : more span but the same wingbox height. That has significant impact on adjustments for the higher moment arm.
        How do 777 and A350 profile thickness compare?

        • I imagine operating efficiency of freighters becomes increasingly more important as minimum SAF requirement shot up between 2030 and 2040 (increases cost).

      • > So the next one (737 replacement?) better be good. <

        I'm looking for Boeing's next NMA/NBA/NSA whatever-it-is with real interest. My impression
        for now is that they think they can milk their existing programs for quite some time, then "leapfrog" over Airbus [Irkut/COMAC..] .

        deludere, deludere

        • ‘The First A321XLR Development Aircraft Is Coming to Life in Hamburg’:

          “The first A321XLR flight test aircraft is getting ready for its first operations, at the Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Hamburg. The newest member of the Airbus A321 family will eventually be produced at several Airbus FAL locations, but Hamburg is the pioneering one, and the knowledge gained from this pilot development of the development aircraft version will be used by the other teams, in the future.”

          Will the cutting-edge American company bring a competitor to the -321XLR to market
          before it’s too late ?

          • The certification of the A321XLR in the US may run into some interesting obstacles, due to BA’s recently expressed “safety concerns” about the conformal fuel tanks used in the plane. It will be interesting to see if the FAA gets on board with this one.
            The EASA is getting more “hands on” involved in the certification of the 777X (see link), so it wouldn’t be inconceivable for the FAA to get similarly “thorough” with the A321XLR.


            “Aviation Week notes that EASA’s ‘watch-list’ contains many items that it wishes to have oversight on as part of the certification process. One airline executive told the publication that the requests are so significant, they have the potential to delay the program by several years.”

          • MAX 10 EIS supposed to be 2023. (Maybe also the MAX 7.)

            777-9 EIS supposed to be late 2023.

            787 resumption of deliveries unannounced but anywhere from April to June are the latest estimates.

          • What is the difficulty with the MAX7 ?
            It is nothing more than a MAX8 simple shrink! ( And no weighted down by some extra certification items like on the MAX10 )

            ( IMU delaying MAX10 also delays the final AoA fix for the other family members. )

          • @ Uwe
            That’s an interesting question.
            Is it possible that the FAA (and/or EASA) is using the MAX-7 cert as a fresh opportunity to address known issues in the MAX family as a whole — thereby “incentivizing” BA to address these issues?
            For example, the MAX family has (or, at least, had) an AP issue (seemingly not related to MCAS) — see link. And, of course, the 737 has an autothrottle issue that rears its head with some regularity.


          • @Uwe

            My guess is FAA now goes by the book, and BA’s resources stretched by 787 production issues etc.

          • I’m not convinced that the recent MAX “re-cert” efforts concentrated on anything other than MCAS. I find it hard to believe that other aspects of the MAX were scrutinized at that time. So, even though a MAX 7 may have been used, that doesn’t mean that the model was thoroughly vetted.

          • From Bloomberg news above:

            ‘ Boeing has told the carrier to expect certification “in the next month, or two or three,” ‘

            Seeing is believing.

        • “Milking existing programs” is the specialty of the McD-GE clique that took over Boeing.
          Chances are, if they attempt a clean sheet program it will lose money cause they will fumble the development.

        • Imagine the amount involved to inspect and rework the current fleet of 787 delivered to customers. Who is going to be responsible and pay for it? 🤔

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