Pontifications: Lockheed confident as C-130J faces Airbus A400M and Embraer C-390

The last article in a series of interviews with Lockheed Martin.

By Scott Hamilton

June 6, 2023, © Leeham News: The Lockheed Martin C-130 cargo plane entered production in 1954. The first flight was the same year and it entered service in December 1956.

The latest version, the C-130J, is still in production. Named the Hercules, the C-130 is operated by armed services all over the world. Retired versions serve as aerial fire-fighting tankers. A small number of civilian versions, the L-100, serve as commercial freighters.

The C-130J, called the Super Hercules, extends the life of the C-130 series indefinitely. And production for its first civilian operator, a Texas cargo airline, is underway.

Attempts by Airbus with the larger A400M and Embraer with the similarly sized, jet-powered C-390 to compete with or replace the C-130 have largely failed. More than 2,600 C-130s have been produced in 69 years.

The larger A400M has been a technically challenging aircraft and a financial disaster for Airbus. Production began in 2007. The first flight was in December 2009. It entered service in 2013. Only somewhat more than 100 have been built and sales of less than 200 have been made. A host of technical problems marred performance and schedule.

Embraer’s KC-390/C-390, about the same size as the C-130, trades turboprops for jet engines. Production began in 2014. The first flight was in February 2015, and it entered service in 2019. The Brazilian Air Force was to be the largest customer and operator. But financial constraints and changing policies resulted in a reduction in the order. As of today, only about 70 have been ordered and only about a dozen are in service.

Embraer partnered with the US company L3 Harris to market the C-390, including to the US Air Force.

C-130 legacy and its competition

In our visit to Lockheed Martin’s Marietta (GA) in April, Ken Moss, the Capture Manager for Business Development, Air Mobility and Maritime Missions, said the Air Force is likely to consider the C-390, which also has aerial refueling capabilities (as does the C-130J).

“What we’ve proven is the C-130 is an extremely capable aircraft designed for both the United States, an advanced first-world nation that has interests around the world, and is still affordable and productive enough for those countries that are not nearly as advanced. It provides access both unimproved and improved, the range, the cargo, it delivers humanitarian, and it does a variety of missions.

“It’s going to be a while before the A400 proves as versatile as the C-130, and it will never be as affordable as the C-130. I would say the same thing for the KC-390. Jets are great and sexy,” Moss said. “They make the right sound, they go really fast, but when it comes to reliability, the C-130 and their turboprop engines have proven to be more reliable than just about any jet out there. When you’re talking about unimproved areas, I will hop on a 130 every single time.”

There are about 520 J models that have been delivered to 26 operators in 22 countries. There are 18 mission variants. Germany and France operate the C-130J and the A400M and view them as complementary, Lockheed said.

The Texas cargo airline, Pallas Aviation, is the first customer (for five) of the civilian version, the LM-100J.

155 Comments on “Pontifications: Lockheed confident as C-130J faces Airbus A400M and Embraer C-390

  1. The UK retired it’s C-130Js a few days ago. Many, including myself think is a mistake.

    The C130 and A400M are complimentary. The UK had the correct mix, C130J – A400M and C-17, sadly no longer.

    • I concur on the weird decision on the C-130 though they will get snapped up.

      UK seems to be lost on defense focus these days. I saw the Carriers were going to be sunk some big bucks to put a CATABAR system on them in stages of some kind.

      Herc and the A400 make a good combo as per Germany and France.

      • The A400M will mature over time into a really solid aircraft that fits the needs between C-130 and C-17.

        UK is probably doing better with it’s new Type 26 & 31 frigates. The carrier decisions were made some time ago, I’m not certain adding CATOBAR to the two existing carriers makes much sense.

        If the UK had gone CATOBAR with their carriers in the first place, France may well have built a few (PA2 project) based on the UK Queen Elizabeth class carriers (but Nuke powered of course).

        It’s very interesting that under AUKUS Australia will initially buy three Virginia-class submarines, but the Collins class replacements will be 8 SSN-AUKUS – renamed UK SSN(R) Astute replacement subs. The nuclear reactor for these boats are likely to be Rolls Royce PWR3, the same as in the currently being built UK Dreadnought class SSBNs. PWR3 seems to borrow heavily from the US S9G.

        The Astute class had it’s issues, but it seems you really don’t want to be in the same ocean as one of them now.

        • Agreed better than the US and the so called Constitution Frigates.

          All those mods to get you a Spanish F-100 that has the two turbines speced, more missiles, a really nice gun and all sorts of standard US Equipment.

          The USAF is not the only one that can be really stupid in its procurement, the USN has given them a run with the LCS and Ford Class Carriers.

          Agreed on the French and UK carriers, it was stupid when the agreement was dropped and France has what the UK now wants, sheese.

          I was reading some comments on 3 US Carriers, the best one was a Nuke Ship, they had unlimited power.

          It would be interesting to see how feasbil a Nuke Plant would be in a Burke Class (the USN calls them destroyers but they really are more of the Japanese take on cruiser in WWII, more super destroyer)

          2500 tons was a bit WWII US Destroyer, Burke’s are at that 10,000 ton line that de-marked at least a light cruiser

          • RN better?! T26 is a mismatch – born as global combat ships ends as an very large ASW frigate with only 1 helicopter. Not even have a AAW only the AUS and CAN variants have and they are facing growth and escalating costs issues besides delays. T31 is a glorified OPV.
            F-100 has no diesel electric propulsion like the Constellation/FREMM that have been winning USN ASW prizes for years.

          • Alex::

            I will check again but I believe the F-100 has two big Cat Engine driven generators.

            If Diesel Electrical is that big a deal the F-100 has the room to change it, cut out the gears and put Gens on all the two Cat engines and the Turbines.

            While not fully sold on diesel electric for that application is sure provides power for the rest of the stuff and that is getting to be a serious need with all the electrical power that equipment draws.

            The silly little 57mm gun on the US Frigate does not impress, that is a gun for a Coast Guard ship or a failed LCS. I seem some argument for a 76mm gun but a 57mm, that is so WWII and the little Brit Anti Tank gun that was amazingly good.

          • Alex, GCS was a way to get what the RN needed (high end ASW quality, with the necessary and expensive quiet hull, internals, propulsion) in a package that was adaptable enough to be exportable and so bring unit costs down. So it was actually “born” ASW. Until the Uraine war it remained just ASW on delivery but capable of having very capable ASuW and AAW fitted later. Due to Ukraine that later has already arrived. High end AAW however needs its own, different hull form. And all of these really, really cost. Hence the need for a much lower cost, spacious GP (T31) which itself was designed for but not bought with many things originally but is getting those “with” due to Ukraine.

          • Having a diesel electric propulsion means a new ship because it changes everything.
            F-100 was offered of with what was possible.

            The 57mm in Constellation is a requirement of US Navy not a choice of shipyard, Italian FREMM which are lighter than Constellations have a 127mm.
            AAW does not need new hull forms. Constellations with Standard missile and Italian FREMM with Aster 30 missiles can fire to 150km distant and even have some ABM capability. T26 have a 25km CAMM missiles instead with an old radar.

          • Agreed on the 57 mm, just a part of what boggles me about the Constellation, a 76mm can shoot as fast and it has a more lethal all around round. 127mm better.

            But agreed, ASW and diesel elecric have nothing to do with each other and hull form? No.

            You need a fast hull to catch a Nuke boat not a quiet one, and DE is not quieter than gas turbine, its all in the isolation.

            Constitutions does not even have a hull sonar, more weird stuff. Its an escort ship, it needs that, subs are its biggest threat, then air and surface stuff last.

            DE is useful for a number of reasons, damage tolerance is a big one. You can distribute the engine in various places and not have one big or even two engine rooms side by side.

            And you can allocate the power out as needed and the wire runs are both flexible and can be routed for backup routes and sourcing.

            And new ships are electricity hungry so a DE is a great choice and more so with modern electronics and ability to change to any form of DC or AC you want (which is what they did on the 787, its got something like 1.25 MW of electrical power – you don’t have to run bleed air ducts)

          • This is an interesting write-up. I have long wondered why the surface fleet did not have the Mk 48 Torpedo and the note about the bow sonar issue is one I am worried about as well.

            5% growth margin is just plain stupid, at least 10% and in changing tech time like we are in 15% would not be out of place

          • @Transworld. The 57mm Mk 110 gun is capable of firing 220 rounds per minute. It requires no deck penetration and is easy to reload by hand. What is revolutionary may be the MAD-FIRES guided round. The weapon will be able to handle swarming drone boat or aerial drone attacks and multiple cruise missiles. The 1200m/sec round can reach 5km in 5 seconds. The high fire rate of the smaller gun and its smaller foot print might be far more important to defeat swarming attacks. 76.2mm guns require a deck penetration and a lot of ammunition handling equipment down below. Interestingly Diehl and Leonardo developed a 155mm GPS guided projectile (Vulcano 155) as well as a 127mm both with ranges in excess of 80km. The technology has now been ported to 76.2mm guns and ranges of 50km are offered. These are GPS rounds with optional infrared or laser seekers replacing the proximity fuse. We now have 76.2mm guns with the same range as USS Iowa.

          • “and DE is not quieter than gas turbine, its all in the isolation.”

            It is much more silent . All modern ASW frigates are DE. Royal Navy Type 23 started it, then the French-Italian FREMM.

            Hull sonar might be better than nothing, but can’t go below surface thermoclime. Constellations have VDS/towed arrays.
            It is the helicopter that is the main killer machine in a frigate or ASW missiles. We are not in WW2.

            57mm don’t fire 220 rpm . it might fire the equivalent per second but can’t sustain it for one minute because the tube is air cooled not water cooled like 76mm.
            76mm have the Strales/Dart anti missile guided round. They are the Italian Navy CIWS. And are operational. The 76mm Sovraponte version do not penetrate.

        • The Australian ASTUTE class will have American Combat Systems. The Australians prefer them and are familiar.

      • The catapult and arrester systems for UK carriers was only ‘pencilled in’ for launching smaller drones etc. Its not a full conversion as they have found previously its a massive conversion cost plus the expensive to buy Emals system.
        Better to buy more A330 tankers for their existing RAF fleet

        • Duke:

          With all due respect its where they want to start but there is like a 7 step process that gets them CATABAR in the end.

          The US actualy has a combo or have turned the Assault Ships into an F-35B capable and can mix and match.

          Issue with F-35B is its short range and I wonder about use for anything other than hit and run as fast as you can.

          My take is build another carrier rather than try to modify an existing one that extensively. You will continuously have one in modes for the next 20 years. If you want a viable carrier force you really need 3-5.

          We made all the mistake3s you can on the Ford so we can give you guys some good pointers and equipment that is tested.

        • Yea I saw it from a couple of sources.

          Mooch does some good work. I watch most of his Video’s since I found him.

  2. just about the only legitimate complaint that can be made about the Herc is that the fuselage is not wide & tall enough to transport some of the vehicles and equipment that the AF would like to haul into unimproved airfields without being broken down.

    otherwise, it is durable, reliable, has plenty of range (and can be refueled in the air) and clearly is easy to modify for any number of different missions.

    • I think that is true of any aircraft. You always want something bigger (well not any bigger than a C5 or a AN-124!

      The A400 is bigger but it can’t handle a Leonhard tank (I think a C-17 can haul 1).

      Part of the answer is to have layered armor packages you can attach on after you get it into the field.

      • the USAF would like to be able to haul medium size loaders and dozers for maintaining and improving the unimproved airfields they fly into.

        unfortunately they need to be broken down rather extensively to fit (as well as being near the mass limit)

        even the lightest armored vehicles are too heavy, never mind to wide or tall.

        • bilbo:

          More the US Army wants that stuff and do the Marines.

          But its a trade off. Something as large as the A400 has its asset value that a question of do you want to risk it or not?

          Keep in mind the more equipment you have the less the air supply works as just keeping them in fuel turns into a huge task.

          I think the Herc can haul the striker, Bradley? and you can always get smaller dozers.

    • Add speed (might be an issue), old design (I am sure that parts could be designed in a more user friendly or lighter or stronger or….. way than half a century+ ago), reliance on the goodwill of U.S. legislation, and possibly simply the suitability of the design for needs in the years ahead. Could be none of this matters, or at least is outweighed by the value of the quantity already built, but they are legitimate concerns.

  3. Main disadvantage of the C130 is its inability to move modern, higher vehicles. The A400M is way bigger, faster, capable and expensive, but the KC390 seems a sharp replacement option.

    The Dutch are replacing their Herc’s for KC390’s and more campaigns are underway.

    The KC390 seems a generation or 2 ahead of the good old Herc’s.

    As we all could know I guess, now most C130J are bought as congressional “add-on” without the USAF asking for it. It has become a kind of text book example of US pork barrel politics.

    Between 1978 and 1998 the USAF asked for five and got two hundred and fifty-six as add-on’s (source GAO).


    There was no real competition or requirements. Now there’s the KC390.

    • keesje:

      You have to keep in mind you can keep going bigger and bigger and it cost more and more and until you get up to a C-17 or a C5 you still can’t haul all your stuff.

      Also, the USAF is a weird operation, truly schizophrenic. If they had their way there would be no Hercs and no Army support, they hate having to support the Army. They grabbed the C-27 program and then dumped them.

      And, they don’t want to let the Army run their own fixed wing (ergo the genesis of the Attack Helicopter)

      The USAF got big eye on the A330MRT, if its bigger its better. Oooops, you can assign credits when the RPF does not allow them.

      Now the USAF is frantic to replace the AWACS, they knew this was coming and its a Panic to get the Wedgetail, sorry guys, you put your order in and its 4 years before you get hardware.

      Its stupidity like that when Congress has to step in. Its not the right way but the Army needs its Hercs and the Air Force won’t let them fly their own.

      • The KC390 is more than capable of replacing the Hercs, and now having hard boom for aerial refueling as opposed to the drogue it formerly had, makes for a multi versatile platform. L3HARRIS is the partner where the 390 gets up to date avionics (L3HARRIS is updating the F35s Avionics) and the aircraft will be built in the USA. It’s the answer to the replacement of the Herc, and production can be ramped up in two countries with strong aviation teams.

        It’s a simple answer to the questions of quick cargo & aerial refueling on the battlefields of today and tomorrow.

    • I’ve seen the A400M prototype close up in Toulouse: it’s certainly pretty big, especially for something that can land on rough strips!

      Nice contract to have for Lockheed. Sell 5, make 256, invoice for 256. It certainly sounds excessive, but it is just possible that a country that experiences a range of natural disasters (and potentially has some “big” ones waiting in the wings) could find itself grateful for such a large fleet one day. I’ve no idea if that’s how the US congress sees it, but it’s that kind of thing that would make everyone a lot happier for having such a large fleet in the national inventory.

      • All that money that could have been spent on healthcare, education, law enforcement and/or infrastructure — sitting unwanted on the tarmac, waiting for a large natural disaster to occur.
        Sounds like a fruitful allocation of funds 😉

      • Yep, and the healthcare system would be Russian. More what aboutism.

        • How about European’s national health care? Or Canadian’s?? 🤭

          • Apparently, decent health care that did not bankrupt, immiserate, or kill by other means its users- as our present, deeply defective US system does- would be OMG! “Russian”, according to our Alaskan friend.

      • Matthew:

        The USAF failed to recapitalize (bring up to modern standards) its air supply fleet because they do not want to do air supply (mostly its for the grunts)

        They want their big whiz bang shiny toys that go Mach something.

        The USAF did not want nearly as many C-17s as they got and you read over and over again how heavily used they are.

        So, Congress saw they were ignoring an important part of the system and stepped in. Now instead of having KC-135R that have 100 parked at any given time doing heavy maint, they have a modern fleet of Hercs to do their end of the job.

        The USAF is the most messed up of US services. Nothing they say do I believe (exactly like Calhoun)

    • I’m wondering if Brazil’s involvement in BRICS will cost Embraer sales. It certainly doesn’t make any sense pouring military aid into Ukraine while Brazil is one entity trading with Russia and funding its aviation industry and its new president repeats Russian and Chinese talking points.

  4. Might as well throw the C295 into the mix as well: for some purposes/operators, the C130 is too big.


    And, to be more complete, let’s not forget the Chinese Y-20 — which is similar in size to an A400M, but has jet propulsion.



    As @keesje points out above, the Dutch recently chose the C-390 as a replacement for Hercules aircraft — range and speed were important factors in the choice. Also, the C390 has only two engines to maintain, whereas the C130 has four.
    Sweden is also considering the C390.


    • Throw in the C-27 Spartan, its really designed as an airlifter.

    • The Chinese Y-20 is just a development/copy of the Il-76. Which they also operate.
      One give away , other than the general dimensions, wing seep angle fin angle etc is the rear loading ramp , which for both Il-76 and Y-20 has double petal sideways folding doors in addition.
      I suppose if their expertise is in unlicensed manufacture after a tear down of the original , why not go for it

      • In that case: the C-130 is just a glorified Fairchild C-123, which is just a glorified Chase XCG-20,…

        Get a pair of glasses and have a good look at the Y-20 🙈

        • Well those were all US made and they built on a foundation of others including the C-919 and tried out the A400 approach with the C-133.

          China never built any themselves as a base or a start, they just copied Russian then some of it is modified.

          Europe and the US have daisy chained off each other with ideas of their own about what works and what does not.

          US builds to specs, and in our case C-17 suites to get stuff into Theater then dispersed out by C-130.

          Europe risks an A400 but if its just into a forward strip that does not have anti air risks then that works nicely. France seems to be happy with how they worked in Africa.

          The UK on the other hand were so excited about how well the A400 worked in Afghanistan they dumped the C-130.

          LOL, C-17 worked, DC-10 worked, what can’t work on a paved runway?

        • I have seen the Y-20….. in pictures side by side with the Il-76. They are the same plane basically- same dimensions ( like wingspan and length) with some improvements made in cockpit and non structural areas – nose, undercarriage, tail and tail fin top fairings. I think they have new engines as well, essentially higher BPR turbofans, but early production used the old russian engines.
          Its a good choice to up cycle an old design in much the same way the C-130J was

      • @Dukeofurl
        The Y-20 is actually more a development of the Antonov An70 turboprop (slightly larger competitor to the A400M when it being conceived by the Europeans). The Ukrainians redesigned it (made it larger) for the Chinese and added jet engines when they failed to get the Europeans to adopt their plane.

  5. And on the subject of Lockheed:
    “Lockheed Martin Selects GE Aerospace to Supply Engines for the LMXT Strategic Tanker”

    “Lockheed Martin and Airbus leaders announce the selection of GE Aerospace’s CF6-80E1 propulsion system for the LMXT strategic tanker. The LMXT is Lockheed Martin’s solution for the U.S. Air Force’s KC-135 recapitalization plan and is built on the combat-proven design of the A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT).

    “Production of GE’s CF6 engine for the LMXT is anticipated to support more than 3,000 direct and indirect American jobs, including in highly skilled advanced manufacturing, engineering, and testing. In total, the LMXT’s engine production alone will incorporate work in more than 25 states.

    “”America’s tanker fleet will play a critical role in meeting future mission requirements. This means the LMXT must use capable and proven technologies, such as the MRTT strategic tanker and GE Aerospace’s CF6 engine,” said Greg Ulmer, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. “This partnership with GE further demonstrates how the LMXT will strengthen and diversify the critical U.S. tanker industrial base.” ”



    • That is funny, what A330MRT XLT tanker?

      I just selected myself as a billionaire and ordered my super yacht, it will be here any day now.

      • The A330 MRTT exists already ( LMXT is just branding) , does your billions ?

        • Duke:

          To be clear, the A330MRT obviously exists and it does the tanker job nicely (well other than the UK and no booms)

          But, a US spec KC-47A? No.

          LM would have to build the assembly line, learn how to tear an A330 apart and build a US Spec tanker. Yes the LXT is branding but its not brading of real product, its vapor ware branding.

          • The A330 MRRT would be assembled in Mobile at their existing plant
            The plane would be further equipped than what Boeing does as it shares the 767F commercial freighter FAL . The final assembly would be ‘to tanker spec’ including cockpit, main wiring , tanks, piping its own refuelling receptacle

            The LM part only comes after the plane flies to Georgia where final fitout of comms, boom, drogues ,sensors and any other special USAF requirements is done-
            Remember its part of the DoD requirement ( when they issue it!, but like last time) that an an existing production tanker be the bid.

          • Duke:

            You make my point, huge bucks to build a plant in Alabama to build an A330 and learn how to assemble it, just to send it to Georgia to another plant you have to build and tear it apart.

            And you don’t just plug and play US Mil spec equipment, it has to be designed to work with its various brothers and sister systems (called integration) and no A330MRT is built to that spec.

            so you have delays, you always have delays.

            And you wind up with a 200-250 million dollar tanker when you can buy one for half that much with 85 -90 % or more of the A330MRT long range capability.

          • Wheres the evidence that a new plant in Mobile – which will only build the A330MRRT- will deliver them to Georgia where it would
            ‘learn how to be torn apart’ ( hyperbole alert) by Lockheed ?
            Its an established process to deliver ‘green’ airframes of say KC-46 or P-8 to be fitted out with specialist military equipment at another location
            “The bulk of the airplanes were in the form of 767-2C freighters; largely completed airplanes with all the necessary wiring and strengthening, but still waiting on all the specialized military equipment needed to make them into tanker/transports. That equipment comprises refueling booms and hoses, as well as other fuel transfer equipment, military radios, avionics, self-defense systems, electromagnetic hardening, specialized lighting, extra fuel tanks, and additional plumbing necessary to make it all work.”…which was done at Boeing field after delivery from Renton or Everett
            It will be even easier for Lockheed as the tanker version is the only type to be made at Mobile , not the dual freighter -tanker line at Everett
            Only time its torn apart- well insides largely gutted- these days is the conversion from used civilian airframes

  6. One wonders if Lockheed has any (impending) shimming issues on the C-130J…or is that a purely Boeing thing?

    “New 787 Dreamliner production issue could slow delivery of 90 jets in Boeing’s inventory”

    “WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Boeing said on Tuesday it is slowing deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner after the company discovered a new production flaw, but expressed optimism that it can still deliver 70-80 of the widebody jets this year as planned.

    “The problem, which does not pose a flight safety concern, involves a fitting for the 787’s horizontal stabilizer made by a Boeing production facility in Salt Lake City, Utah, the company said. Boeing will need to inspect all 90 Dreamliners in its inventory before they can be delivered, and it expects it will take two weeks to fix each aircraft, the company added.

    “Boeing said it found last week that the fitting used shimming – a material that fills gaps between the surfaces of an aircraft – that was improperly sized and did not meet specifications. On Friday, it stopped deliveries of 787s suspected to have the flaw, the company said.

    “The issue does not immediately impact in-service 787s, Boeing said, but the company could not say how far back the issue stretches or whether Dreamliners currently operated by airlines will need a fix.”


    • You do have some idea how long the C-130-J has been in production don’t you?

      • I understand that Boeing has come out with a 12 step program for people who are obsessed with the company, success is when they can stay on topic.

    • Thats old news about the ultra thin ‘shims’ for fuselage and includes Salt Lake City plant which makes the tail surfaces
      Was actually news back in 2020-21
      ‘ investigation was also launched to review shimming for the horizontal stabilizer assemblies. The assemblies had already been an issue early in the program, having led to a temporary grounding of the flight-test fleet in 2010 after the discovery of issues with improperly installed shims and the torque of associated fasteners.’

      The FAA even did an AD for a one time inspection of the stabiliser ….. in 2019

        • You would be surprised how many news reporters just recycle others stories as their own. ( Like China does with other countries planes)

          Its paywalled so who knows what the gist of the story is as you have just gone for the headline

          • Check the real aviation website Aviation Week – where Scott used to work- and its Dec 2022 by line and reference to 2019 as well.

            Whats does Bloomberg really say beyond the paywall……. crickets

          • Hahaha. Boeing = Rework (TM)

            -> A newly discovered production issue will slow Boeing 787 deliveries near-term and require inspections and likely repairs to undelivered aircraft, the company said June 6. […]

            Boeing said it made the decision to stop deliveries on June 2 […]

            The latest issue is not related to another shimming nonconformance with the Salt Lake City-made stabilizers revealed in 2020, the source added.


      • This appears to be a new issue that mostly affects recent frames. It adds a few weeks of rework prior to delivery from inventory.

        • Yep, but when you are obsessed you are obsessed.

          Boeing is an expert at shim fixing now, probably can do it in their sleep (grin)

          But note the attempted diversion from the Topic, you know you are addicted when everything comes up mushrooms.

          • “But note the attempted diversion from the Topic”

            Subs and aircraft carriers…

        • @ Rob
          “…the company could not say how far back the issue stretches or whether Dreamliners currently operated by airlines will need a fix.”

          • Only frames in inventory will be addressed at present, and that’s all we know. Those are the facts.

            The rest are things we don’t know, and are not facts, but speculation.

          • @ Rob

            …which is precisely why I commented on your completely speculative and baseless assertion above, namely:
            “…mostly affects recent frames.”

    • Shimming tolerances in softer aluminum alloys is not as critical as you don’t create the same rivet axial loads when forcing the parts together. Hence some riveters are used to “shimming cheating”. But when you do not shim correctly on much stiffer materials when you force the bits together while riveting the axial rivet loads build up on the finished assy, that happened on the A380 besides other problems during manufacture of the inital wing configuration.

    • @Byrce We all know Boeing is having issues.., stick to the subject matter please !!

      • Perfectly legitimate to ask if Lockheed Martin is also having shimming issues with its aircraft…which is how I initiated this thread. After all, it’s pretty remarkable that one manufacturer is having continuous, drawn-out problems with something that never seems to be an issue for other OEMs, isn’t it?

        And don’t forget to chide those who raised off-topic subs and aircraft carriers above, if you want to be consistent.

        • Nope, its an attempt to a diversion and talk about Boeing instead, this post is LM specifically and defense products are involved and Scott can determine if some of the side discussions are wandering too far off topic

          You on the other hand are egregiously guilty of being obsessed with Boeing and off you go (granted when you have a problem you need to understand you have a problem before you can get help). You do so not in sub topics but main line posts.

          Give it a rest. Take a deep breath and gets some quiet time.

          • And yet, plenty of other commenters are also getting in on the shimming discussion.
            In contrast, not sure if there’ll be much interest in your “extremely tough and stubborn family” life story below.

    • I wonder if the production workers at the Boeing FALs need to put down their smartphones and focus more on the job.

      In all fairness, production issues on the C-130J and the 787 are not comparable. 66 years on fully mature metal tech vs. 14 years on CFRP tech.

      • 14 years should be enough to get it right, don’t you think?

        • I’m not so sure. It depends on what the underlying issues are, which neither of us really know.

          However, the ongoing quality problems at Boeing FALs, whether it be shims, or FOD, or incorrectly sealed brackets or whatever, does not reflect well on the workforce there. It’s not just a management problem.

          • Mike B:

            It is a management problem in that the workers can only adhere to what they are being told is correct.

            One important issue is the shims were being fabricated wrong.

            Having been on the pointy end of the spear, even if you know its wrong, it takes a brave person to face down the pressure and there is no way to know the shim is wrong.

            Management sets up the quality control system whatever it is and clearly the QC was totally lacking as there were escapes at Charleston in more than one area and at Spirit.

            The best employees in the world cannot overcome bad management.

            Hopefully and probably painfully, Boeing is being forced to deal with its issues at that level.

            Sometimes like at Spirit (MAX rudder brackets) an employee can spot something and if the management encourage it, it gets checked out.

            And yes I have been there. As a dumb ass laborer I stood down a crew of 4 guys with 30+ work experience each on the fact that the Dozer we just got was a diesel not gasoline and the bosses order to put gasoline in it was going to be catastrophic (yea I was young and dumb but my dad was a diesel mechanic and I knew a diesel engine when I saw one)

            You would think the fact it had no distributer, no spark plug wires and no spark plugs would have run alarm bells. But as Menteur Pilot has shown, confirmation bias is a horrible thing. They ordered the gas version and expected it was gas (someone changed the spec and it came in as a diesel).

            I just happen to be from a family of extremely tough and stubborn people and I was not backing down and I was the one being told to get 5 gallons of gasoline and put it in the tank (for those not in the know, it would blow the engine up)

          • @ Mike Bohnet

            I agree as regards the workforce.
            Management can’t look over the shoulder of every worker. There seems to be a serious problem with one or more of qualification, training, motivation and general attitude. And QC certainly sucks.

          • TW,

            I never said management bears no responsibility. I just pointed out that the workers also bear responsibility. Many people commenting in this forum, including yourself, have repeatedly talked about how bad the Boeing management is. Comparatively rarely has the responsibility of the engineers or assembly techs been highlighted.

            What excuse are you going to make for the assembly techs that left FOD in the airframes? That it wasn’t explicitly written out in the instructions that leaving FOD in the closed spaces is “right out”? What was the consequence for the employees that did this?

          • Bryce,

            I would almost certainly say qualification is an issue. It seems to be the issue du jour in that there is much talk of it going around since the pandemic, but I strongly suspect it’s been around a long, long time before that in the aerospace industry and other industries too.

            Training could definitely be a factor, but it seems to me like a huge deficiency in training would set off alarm bells that would make it up to the regulator. I could be wrong, but I thought the entire production system needed to be certified, including aspects of the training program.

            I think general attitude is also probably an issue. I work for a small company, so it is easier to screen out prospective employees with attitude problem indicators. I can only imagine that it is next to impossible with large companies like Boeing. Sirens scream in my head when I sense: CYA, low initiative, us vs. them, low attention to detail, low learning motivation. It potentially only takes one or two bad apples to cause a quality disaster.

            I’m sure that bad management can bring out the worst in employees, but to me that is never an excuse. We all bear individual responsibility for our actions.

            Do I know how to solve these issues? Not really. Avoiding most of these issues is one of the reasons why I like working for a small company.

          • Mike B:

            It all depends on your work culture. Mine at the end was extraordinarily toxic. It had morphed into corrupt as well. I remember the cowering workers at Boeing (McNennearney ?).

            So yea, in the end I followed my brothers mantra. Is its a problem I have to deal with or they have to deal with when I quit.

            I saw two types at the end, those who were corrupt and toxic and those who had given up and were going though the motions doing as little as they had to.

            I never got the the point I would ignore my own FOD, but someone elsees?

            In one case I was stopped from going into work to look for gas leaks. When I did get on shift I found they had failed to inspect the hidden ceiling areas. I even started in to bring it up but got trashed down about how wonderfully they had done.

            Shrug. I no longer had a dog in the fight. No reason I should care if they don’t let alone trash down someone who was trying to do the right thing.

            Now, if you have a good culture and employees trash the job, you fire them. You have good employees to more than fill in. Back in the day I turned in more than one employee.

            But you only do that if you don’t get gobber smacked and that has been Boeing MO for years. Kill the messenger.

  7. They could specify a smaller GE9X of 75k-80k thrust that also could keep the 767F in production.

      • Yes, that used to be the USAF old way of being on the leading edge developing new engines instead of buying out of commercial use old engines. You get high performance and lots of problems you solve together (in this case Wright Field and GE Evendale, not too far apart on I-70)

        • Well the C-5 was so much bigger than any existing plane so needed a new large turbofan and set the ball rolling for the widebody era.
          Thats was the only example ,as the Starlifter was existing TF-33/JT-3D, the C-17 is the PW2000 and the KC-46 with PW4000
          Civil turbofans are cheaper, have cheaper parts and have such long on wing usage compared to the limited airforce usage ( maybe 700 hours per year)
          So the claim of being on leading edge , hasnt happened for 60 years or so.

          • Not to mention an insane cost to develop an engine for 70 (current USAF, they will change their mind when its obvious they don’t get the new whiz bang next gen tanker until 2040.

            The reality is there is no upside as tankers fly under 1000 hours a year.

            So yea, you go with the old GE engine that is on the A330 because its cost effective even though we LMXLT will not see the light of day.

          • The ‘old’ GE engine on the LMXT/A330 isnt much different to the ‘old PW’ engine on the KC-46.
            The A330 tanker could equally have a PW4000 series engine

            Who knows , maybe Boeing could ‘rescue’ its 767F line with a version of the GEnx, mostly likely related to the one from the 747-8 ( 104 in) with a cropped fan and less stages in compressor and turbine and say 55,000lb

  8. “The larger A400M has been a technically challenging aircraft and a financial disaster for Airbus. Production began in 2007. The first flight was in December 2009. It entered service in 2013. Only somewhat more than 100 have been built and sales of less than 200 have been made. A host of technical problems marred performance and schedule.”

    Scott, would love an in depth article on why if and when you have time.

      • Thank you

        Through the engine maker under the bus. Reads like a classic case of scope creep.

        • williams:

          The engine was the initial issue but trying to satisfy the varying specs from all the buying European countries was nuts.

          The gear box then went onto be a problem but everyone wanted something different and unlike the C-17 where you took what was there, ungh.

          • There wasnt varying spec from all the buyers , others that what is normal for a military purchase where additional capability is possible but just needed the airborne testing and control mods.

            For reasons that Airbus never could explain the engine development/testing contract was included under Airbus airframe development contract but subtracted to another consortium Europrop. Having civil certification for the plane and engines also cost significant amounts in documentation and delays, just as it did for the KC-46

          • As I recall Germany wanted to be able to carry its latest AFV.

            That caused size issues no one else was interested in.

            And again from memory, everyone wanted different com and defensive gear so each type or different one has to be tested and confirmed to work and not interfere with other electronics.

            Then it morphed into a strategic air lifter. In the US we call it mission creep and the more people with the finger in the pie the worse it gets.

          • @ TW

            “And again from memory,…”

            Yes, well, we know how reliable your “memory” is, e.g. as regards wing join at AB.

            No links to back up your assertions / fantasies, of course…🙈

    • LM isnt ‘backing out’ as you suggest. That was just an alternative option for LM owned tanker fleet under *lease* to USAF.

      They are sticking to the LMXT type A330 proposal to *sell* planes to the USAF
      the headline is just click bait

      • Duke:

        Is that not what Boeing tried once?

        Hmmm, Hotel California, you just can’t kill the steely beast.

    • TW’s inspiring reading skills strike again 🙈

      From the posted link:

      “While Lockheed Martin is no longer interested in providing contract tanker solutions, it is still trying to sell the LMXT to the Air Force to meet the requirements of the service’s interim tanker acquisition plan, which is currently referred to as the KC-135 recapitalization effort.”

      • “of course LM is backing out..”

        Thanks for the reality-based corrective quote from the article. 😉

        • You’re welcome — always a pleasure.
          I’m a big fan of reality 👍

          • really ?
            Hows the the reality based news about the extent of Airbus program accounting going down ?
            Research and development/tooling jigs costs for its commercial aircraft – ‘capitalised’ over the life of the program- just another term for program accounting
            launch orders pricing , again program accounting rather than unit costs
            The half dozen or so A350 from the start of production still not sold ( 1 recently hived off to ultra high density carrier French Bee )- not doubt charged as research and development.

          • @ DoU

            Just because I’m a fan of reality doesn’t mean that I begrudge you your personal fantasies regarding the bookkeeping at AB 🙂
            It took a long time for the penny to drop above regarding the new shimming issue in SLC — it will probably take much, much longer before the accounting penny drops 😉

            Now, it’s a full year since that ABC article that you got so worked up about, but still no sign of a retraction. Have you been on to the editors recently?

  9. Nobody mentions the A200M concept?
    This is basically a smaller A400M with 2TP400 engines (same as A400M)
    Now that the teething problems of the A400M are mostly behind us, it would be a rather cheap and riskless endeavour.
    And it would be as capable as the geriatric competition

    • FF:

      Its still an all new aircraft, you don’t just wash down an A400 and apply heat and get it to shrink.

      There is a reason for 4 power plants on those kind of airlifters.

      • Yes . A200M doesnt make any sense outside the consortium that builds the A400M.
        Want to go smaller, the Herc will win all the time and the C-390 is a strong contender for route flying at jet speeds/altitudes- which is the Herc weak point

  10. With all the political and technical issues of a long term European project during dynamic times the A400M turned out to be a very capable platform, as was already proven in the Caribbean, Africa, Afghanistan and now Eastern Europe.

    Its combination of tactical, strategic capacity, fighter/heli tanker capability, it’s speed & fbw agility, spacey cargo deck and unmatched versatility has quickly made it a favorite for NATO operations.


    If it was a Boeing, LM or NG aircraft, the USAF / Marines would have enthusiastically ordered many already IMO.

    Because it proves so useful, it can e.g. move a serious vehicles / 35t at M.7 over a long distance unrefueled and unload it on a short unprepared airfield.


    • Shrug, the C-130 has been there and done that for 70 years?

      You don’t need to carry armor to a humanitarian crisis and you take up more space and better be able to fly back to a base with your existing fuel.

      Most places have an airport a C-17 can get into, and a C-5 can get into some that a C-17 can’t (its amazing short field capable, more so with the new engines but its just to darned big)

      US has found it was better to use a C-17 or a C-5 to get into the area then distribute with a C-130 (assuming you don’t have a C-17 capable airport and many areas do have that)

      • The USAF concluded the Herc had become too small more than 20 years ago. But the political-industrial system was stronger. And the USAF had to simply deal with it.

        • keesje:

          What you miss is it is the US Army that determines what the front support fleet needs to be (more accurately what they wanted delivered where and when). The USAF are supposed to be drivers to get them what the Army needs and where.

          The USAF does not want them to have their own fixed wing fleet, they begrudge them even the Twin Otters they had.

          There is an agreement (forced by the USAF) that the Army cannot operate fixed wing above an unspecified size)

          The US Army wante4d to replace the Twin Otters with the C-27J, it suited longer range needs than helicopters (big, heavy and short range beasts). The USAF screamed and hollered and got control of the C-27J fleet, then they dumped them.

          The USAF hates the A-10 because it is closer air support (CAS) for the Army. They don’t want to get dirty, they want Mach 2 jet fighters or big bombers (and they did not want the C-17 either)

          What did the USAF use in Korea for CAS? Not the fantastic Thunderbolts, they used P-51 Mustangs which are as bad as it gets for CAS.

          Where were the Thunderbolts? Killed off ASAP after the War, because they were CAS and you got dirty and bugs on your airplane (not to mention ugly, nope, the pretty and slower P-51 with its liquid cooled and vulnerable engine)

          The USAF lies to and about itself and it lies beyond belief about what it thinks the Army needs. Let the Army decide what it needs.

          And you DO NOT land armor in a vacuum. Ammo needs fuel and lots of it, it need ammo and lots of it.

          Ask the Germans how Stalingrad went in WII.

          Ask the Army what it needs, not what the USAF kicks and screams and hollers about supporting them.

          • The Chinese will be most amused to read this…

          • Some of the greatest deficiencies in US Defense procurement is caused by turf wars between the 3 main branches (ignoring USMC). The US Army usually ends up with the short end of the stick I feel. The US Army is deficient in Short Range, Medium Range and Long Range Air Defences. There is no AA Artillery to deal cost effectively with cruise missiles and drones forcing Ukraine to rely on a 1970s German SPAAG called Gepard (Cheetah). Patriot is a superb missile system but lacks a variant with sufficient range to repel glide bomb carrier aircraft. The US Army is completely out ranged in GMLRS and long range missiles because of the focus on manned USAF/USN fighter jets to deliver ordnance. The ER-GMLRS and Precision Strike Missile are not quite the fix for this and are coming belatedly. There are positives in that the HIMARS/GMLRS system is lean and small (C-130 transportable). The US lagging in hypersonic is likely the cause of this as well.

  11. According to a report in “Flight”, Azerbaijan have ordered C27(s?).

    • You did read the beginning of this did you not? Sheese. Days late and dollar short as we say in the US.

    • Again it helps to reference the authoritative source.

      The issue with the refueling boom redesign is the subcontractor production of the required pressure modulating hydraulic valve. This is not a new issue and has been fully documented before. The boom must adjust the connecting force to the receiver. The increase in cost is about 13%.

      The issue with the required assets available deadline is the Cobham wing pods, for which Cobham is still struggling to attain civilian transport certification. Production and delivery are held up until that happens. Again this is not a new issue, it’s been in place for some time.


      • Nice attempt at damage control, but Pedro’s link — and the Aviation Week article that it references — were perfectly clear:

        “The U.S. Air Force and Boeing are seeing the costs increase for a needed boom redesign for the KC-46 tanker as well as delays for the new Remote Vision System (RVS) and the schedule for a required production aircraft, according to a *new* assessment”


        From page 86 of the GAO report:

        “The retrofits and incorporation of the new design into production are also delayed and are now planned for fiscal year 2026. The estimated costs to redesign the boom increased since last year from $113 million to $128 million, while the estimated retrofit costs remain at about $219.2 million. Program officials noted that associated delays and cost increases are due to subcontractor difficulties meeting design specifications”.

        So, 2025 has now slipped to 2026…what a surprise 🙈
        And there are “difficulties meeting design specifications”

        • Again, context is important to rational individuals.

          Neither of these are new or unexpected issues. Both have been known for some time.

          And neither is even the fault of Boeing, as has been explained here multiple times now.

          And there is no slip over what was previously known, for those who pay attention to the program.

          So as usual, nice try, but there is nothing here of any substance.

          • Again, facts are important to rational individuals.
            The delay to 2026 is new: the previous estimate had been 2025.

            “And neither is even the fault of Boeing”

            The USAF buys the tankers from Boeing. Whatever screw-ups occur between Boeing and its (poorly-treated) sub-contractors are for Boeing’s reckoning.

            So, in addition to pilot blaming, Rob now tries to seek desperate escapes in sub-contractor blaming 😉

          • Please note that the USAF and the GAO blamed the subcontractors, not me. I’m just clarifying the context and the source, for the rational readers here.

          • @ Rob

            We know that the last few days have been very tough for you — after all, you’ve had to try and do urgent damage control with regard to:
            – A highly embarrassing, indefinite delay of the Starliner launch — this time due to shoddy parachute work and disgraceful use of large quantities of flammable tape;
            – Yet another episode of the 787 shimming soap opera — featuring a return to BA’s own SLC operation;
            – Yet more delays to the KC-46A and F-15EX military programs,

            but that really doesn’t justify an attempt to pin this on sub-contractors.

            Words are important: just because sub-contractors were identified as a *source* of delays doesn’t mean that they’re to *blame* for those delays.

            The buck stops with Boeing, Robbie.

          • Begs to ask: does BA design what *its* subcontractor unable to make at the price agreed? Who pick this subcontractor, BDS?

          • Yep, over and over and over again. The boom issue was a USAF spec Boeing met and the USAF will pay to have fixed.

            Funny how people will cite the GAO when they think it supports them and then when the GAO rules the USAF hosed the KC-46A RFP they are wrong.

            You can’t have it both ways though of course you want to.

            The GAO is often behind on these assessments as the details involved can have been solved months before.

            It helps in it keeps feet to the fire but frequently there is a significant change in status the report does not reflect. Sometimes it gets worse and sometimes its been resolved.

            From the Sounds of Silence: “Hello Darkness my old friend, I am here to talk to you again. “

    • @ Pedro

      With RVS2.0 now delayed AGAIN (was initially slated for 2024…then that became 2025…and now it’s slipped to 2026), one better understands the quote from the recent LNA article on this subject:

      “…so far, the USAF technical group at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton (OH) is proceeding as if there will be a competitive battle.”


      And with an issue like “subcontractor difficulties meeting design specifications”, one can expect 2026 to further slip to 2027 (at least)…

      • Last month I posted video of the successful testing of the working RVS 2.0, at Edwards Air Force Base Test Squadron.

        Along with articles that discussed the favorable review of the USAF, and the reasons for the present delay. Which were civilian certification of the USAF cameras, as well as the inability of the supply chain to provide specific needed parts. Neither of which are within Boeing’s control.

        And of course, also documented the KC-46 entry into worldwide USAF dispatch service, in the meantime.

        But all of that has to do with the correct context, which unfortunately produces the same allergic reaction here as the correct facts.

        • @ Rob

          Great that the *testing* of the RVS 2.0 system meets with your approval.
          However, as I warned you last time, the *implementation* of the system in the real-world fleet is a totally different matter, isn’t it?

          Details matter, Robbie 😉

  12. Another ex-China MAX quietly delivered to United Airlines yesterday.
    LN 7779 was originally slated for Urumqi Air, and is 3.6 years old.

    United has now taken 2 ex-China frames in the past 10 days.

    Urumqi Air now has zero MAX orders left.

  13. “Production issues delay Boeing F-15EX fighter deliveries to USAF”

    “The delivery of the first lot of Boeing F-15EX fighters to the US Air Force has hit a hurdle as production issues have caused significant delays, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has announced in a new report.

    “GAO’s Weapon Systems Annual Assessment reveals that the first Lot 1B aircraft, originally scheduled for delivery in December 2022, will now be delayed by six months, according to Boeing officials.

    ““The primary driver of these delays was supplier quality problems related to a critical component in the forward fuselage assembly that ensures safety of flight,” the report reads.

    “In addition to supplier quality problems, a report from the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) has revealed that Boeing also encountered challenges due to a design error in the tooling used during production. This design flaw resulted in inaccurately drilled holes for windscreen installation on the third through sixth aircraft of the first lot. However, Boeing has since taken corrective measures by making adjustments to the drilling tool to address the problem.

    “These production-related issues have not only impacted the delivery of the Lot 1B aircraft but have also caused delays in the production of the Lot 2 aircraft. Each Lot 2 aircraft has now been delayed by an additional two months as a result of the challenges faced during Lot 1B production.”


    • And to clean up this post with the correct facts and context, from the authoritative source I posted above:

      There have been 3 delays in total.

      First delay for 6 months, was due to USAF budget issues.

      Second delay for 6 months, is due to a supply chain quality control issue, which have been common throughout the industry since the pandemic.

      Third delay for 2 months, is due to the Boeing windscreen tooling issue.

      Boeing now plans to deliver six Lot 1B aircraft between July 2023 and August 2023, which program officials said is achievable. The final Lot 1B aircraft should be delivered by the end of 2023.

      Pending any delays in finalizing the contract, Lot 2 aircraft deliveries will continue beginning early 2024, at the planned rate of 2 per month.

      Boeing representatives told program officials that they plan to meet the currently defined delivery schedule

      Again the authoritative link for those who are allergic.


      • What you call “cleaning up” is actually just an attempt to muddy the waters 😉

        The link that I posted above is perfectly clear: yet another series of delays in the F-15EX program.


        “Boeing representatives told program officials that they plan to meet the currently defined delivery schedule”

        As if that means anything, given BA’s track record…

          • No wonder the USG is drowning in $31.9 trillion debt, rising at an alarming level year after year.

  14. Big sigh of relief for BA!
    Air India has paid deposits on its recent order — which means that BA’s cash drain in Q2 won’t be as dramatic as it would otherwise have been…after all, there’s a $3.3B debt repayment scheduled for Q2, but quarterly earnings are expected to be negative (again).
    The deposits from Air India should amount to about $1.5B for each OEM.



  15. The Hill: “Is it time to cancel the Boeing Starliner?”

    “…Boeing will probably never make a profit on Starliner. The fact is fraught with irony because when the Commercial Crew contracts were first awarded, Boeing was considered the odds-on favorite to have a spacecraft flying astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Indeed, as both NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said at the time, the inclusion of Boeing sealed the deal with Congress. Boeing has been churning out space hardware since the Apollo program. SpaceX was a young upstart that few if any people in Congress had confidence in.

    “Fast forward over a decade and SpaceX is the gold standard for space launch, having lowered its cost by orders of magnitude. Costs aside, Boeing has every incentive to plow ahead and get the Starliner operational. Its brand as an aerospace company that can build and fly hardware depends on it.

    “The numerous schedule delays and cost overruns surrounding the Space Launch System have hurt the company’s image. A recent lawsuit alleging theft of intellectual property committed by Boeing, which may have led to the Space Launch System problems, is even more damaging,

    “Still, NASA cannot wait forever for Boeing to get the Starliner operational. While Crew Dragon has been functioning splendidly, the strategy of Commercial Crew is to have two operational vehicles capable of taking astronauts to and from low Earth orbit. The approach fosters competition and allows for redundancy in case one vehicle runs into trouble.

    “As it turns out, a potential alternative is waiting in the wings. Space News recently reported that the cargo version of the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser should be ready to fly in either late 2023 or early 2024. The Dream Chaser is a lift-body spacecraft that will launch vertically on top of a Vulcan Centaur rocket and then land horizontally when it returns to Earth, much like the space shuttle used to do.”



    Another cash burner and reputation churner.

    • I don’t know what Mark Whittington is smoking, but there is no way Dream Chaser is going to carry people into orbit before Starliner. There is a big difference between launching cargo and humans. The cargo version of Dream Chaser has a small chance of beating Starliner into orbit but the human rated version is still in the throes of development with not even an unmanned test on the horizon. Who knows when that system will launch humans. Besides that, Dream Chaser is also relying on ULA’s Vulcan Centaur (another Boeing company, along with LM) which is still under development and way, way behind schedule. So, Dream Chaser doesn’t even have a rocket yet. At least ULA is holding on to a bunch of reliable Atlas V’s for the Starliner launches.

    • Things in general don’t seem to be going great in the orbital launch industry unless you’re SpaceX, Rocket Lab, or the Chinese.

      For example, it’s looking grim over at Airbus’ subsidiary ArianeGroup. The Ariane 6 will not likely debut until sometime in 2024. A mere 4 years late even though it’s not even human rated. The last Ariane 5 launch is scheduled to go sometime this month, and then there are no more of them. Their customers are panicking and looking to SpaceX for launch services. By the time Ariane 6 is ready, there might not be any customers left. Talk about existential threat.


    • keesje:

      It would be good if you would acknowledge the information I have given you or get yourself up to speed on US Procurement.

      First and foremost, no country defense procurement is flawless and they all have faults, some worse than others. The US may have one of the worst in the world, but also good equipment once it gets into production becomes solid over time.

      The C-17 was almost cancelled and the USAF did not want the numbers they got, but they are used hugely. So quit insinuation or even stating that the USAF is not horribly messed up. They want whiz bang bombers and whiz bang fighters and could care less about what an Air Force is supposed to do as part of combined arms.

      Congress is buying USN aircraft not requested because the USN is short of aircraft.

      The game is that the force budget (be it USN, USAF, USMC or US Army) for what you want and you know congress will supplement what you need and should have separately.

      Congress knows the USAF does not care about logistics for the Army so they ensured that its there.

      Spain is buying Typhoon when they should buy F-35.

      Germany at one time had 6 subs, one was a parts queen and the other 5 were laid up for repairs. All of them.

      France, UK and Germany can’t agree on a common fighter though the Typhoon and Rafale are near twins.

  16. Maybe the most interesting aspect of this is the UK and its going to A400 and C-17.

    The A400 is supposed to be a C-17 competitor, not a C-130 competitor.

    All other countries that operate the A400 have C-130.

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