Part 6: The KC-X competition from Boeing’s perspective
Feb 21, 2022, © Leeham News: Jim Albaugh, the former president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and of Boeing’s defense unit, retired from the company in 2012. He oversaw the first competitive bid at the defense unit for the US Air Force KC-X refueling tanker. That was lost to Northrop Grumman-EADS (Airbus) in 2009.
As CEO of BCA, he oversaw commercial efforts to get Boeing’s cost down on the 767-200ER, which formed the basis for what became the KC-46A tanker. Defense won this round against a solo EADS bid. Boeing’s winning price was about 10% below the EADS bid for its A330-based MRTT.
Years removed from Boeing but nevertheless an interested observer with experience on the losing and winning bids, Albaugh has some observations and advice as Boeing prepared to compete against Lockheed Martin-Airbus for the KC-Y campaign that already has unofficially begun.
Jan. 31, 2022, © Leeham News: Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, Boeing offered the US Air Force a lease deal for 100 aerial refueling tankers based on the 767-200.
The concept of leasing tankers had been floated before. Boeing at one point proposed creating a 747-based tanker and leasing it to the Air Force. The idea went nowhere, but this one gained traction.
The leasing concept formed just before Jim Albaugh arrived at IDS, but he was president as it progressed and through the subsequent competition, called KC-X, against Northrop Grumman-EADS (Airbus) after the lease deal was canceled.
“You go back in history, and it started out with the need for the Air force to replace the 707s which were their tanker fleet for a long time, and they were getting old,” recalls Albaugh, the CEO of Boeing’s Integrated Defense Systems unit at the time. IDS is now called Boeing Defense, Space and Security (BDS).
Now open to all readers
By Scott Hamilton
Jan. 30, 2022, © Leeham News: Lockheed Martin’s LMXT US Air Force refueling tanker will be a complementary offer to the service in the forthcoming KC-Y competition.
In an exclusive interview with LNA earlier this month, Lockheed Martin (LMCO)’s LMXT Campaign Director, Larry Gallogly, said the Air Force wants an airplane that is bigger, has more range, and more fuel offload than the incumbent Boeing KC-46A. This fits the LMXT, based on the Airbus A330-200 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) now in production.
Airbus partnered with LMCO in 2018 to prepare for the KC-Y competition. Airbus has 61 orders for the MRTT from around the world. Boeing is building 179 tankers for the Air Force from the original KC-X competition. It has a handful of orders from other countries.
The KC-Y contact will be for up to 160 tankers. The competition will pit Boeing and Airbus against each other for the third time. Airbus first teamed with Northrop Grumman in the first round of the KC-X campaign. Northrop won the contract, but the award was protested successfully by Boeing. Northrop dropped out of the recompete, with Airbus going alone. This time, Lockheed Martin will be the lead, and Airbus the subcontractor.
The two fights were bitterly waged in the public and political domains. LMCO hopes to avoid a repeat.
“We have, from the start of this, with both ourselves and Airbus, have had no intention of re-litigating the [KC-X] competition,” Gallogly said. “Our goal has always been to provide what we consider to be a complementary capability. There are going to be 179 KC-46s out there, but there are significant capability gaps that the US Air Force has that this LMXT can fill. We are not trying to provide the same capability in a different wrapper. Our goal is to provide a very different capability and, again, fill those gaps.”
Gallogly said that after talking to the Air Force and Pentagon repeatedly, from the Air Mobility Command to transportation command to the individual theater commanders, to the people in the Pentagon, “what we heard consistently was that the gap exists for fuel offload at strategic ranges. You know as everybody who focuses on the Pacific Theater, you’re faced with the tyranny of distance there, and we needed to provide as much fuel offload as we possibly could.”
Jan. 24, 2022, © Leeham News: Jim Albaugh was president of Boeing Integrated Defense System (IDS), now known as Boeing Defense, Space and Security (BDS) during the competition for the US Air Force’s KC-X program.
After 9/11 (2001), Boeing was reeling as US airlines canceled or deferred orders in the aftermath of the terror attacks in New York City and Washington (DC). Terrorists hijacked four airplanes (all Boeing, as it turned out) operated by American and United airlines. Then, US carriers dominated the world market as customers for Boeing and Airbus. Boeing was disproportionately affected, as it was the USA’s two biggest airlines that were victims of the terror attacks.
By Scott Hamilton
March 2, 2020, © Leeham News: NMA. NSA (version 1). NSA (version 2). NLT. FSA. MOM.
These are Boeing’s acronyms for its next airplane. Whatever it will be.
NMA stands for New Midmarket Airplane.
NSA version 1 stood for New Single Aisle Airplane. It was replaced by version 2, New Small Airplane. This was replaced by FSA, Future Small Airplane. Some called this the Future Single Aisle airplane.
Then there is NLT, New Light Twin, from 2011. Which really begot the NMA, which was initially the MOM, or Middle of the Market Airplane. We called it MOMA at times.
It’s all very confusing. The Next Boeing Airplane is such a moving target. Maybe it should be called the NBA, although some association involving basketball might object. (The Next Airbus Airplane logically would become the NAA.)
Then there is the next new airplane from Embraer, after its joint venture with Boeing is finally approved (as I believe it will be).
Embraer CEO John Slattery want to do a turboprop. So does this become the E3TP?
The JV agreement calls for Embraer (to be named Boeing Brasil-Commercial) to do the next jet in the 100-150 seat category. Does this become the E3150, E3JET, BBCX or something else?
March 01, 2019, ©. Leeham News: We now continue our discussion of the yaw stability of an airliner.
Last week we defined the basic conditions of yaw stability. The aerodynamic side force from an angled airflow stemming from an aircraft yaw angle or sideslip must be higher behind the center of gravity than ahead of the center of gravity.
This is why aircraft have a large vertical wing at the rear of the aircraft called the vertical tailplane. Figure 1.
Dec. 10, 2018, © Leeham News: The tanker wars may be back.
Airbus has teamed with Lockheed Martin to offer the Airbus A330-200MRTT to the Pentagon in a for-hire business model. The agreement also provides the prospect of “conceptualizing the tanker of the future.” (The press release is here.)
From 2001-2011, the US Air Force, Pentagon and even Congress were embroiled in controversy over recapitalization of the USAF aerial refueling tanker fleet.
After 9/11, Boeing proposed leasing 100 tankers based on the 767-200ER to the USAF. A scandal surrounding the USAF approval of this deal sent the air force’s procurement office and Boeing’s CFO to jail and resulted in the resignation of CEO Phil Condit. The lease deal was canceled.
Oct. 31, 2017: A new event, the Southeast Aerospace and Defence Conference (SADC) scheduled for June 25-27 in Mobile (AL), will examine the commercial, defense, space and corporate aerospace sectors in the US Southeast.
The conference is organized by Airfinance Journal and Leeham Co., the first joint venture between the two companies.
The US Southeast is a growing aerospace center. Defense and space clusters have decades-long histories in the Southeast. Corporate and commercial clusters are more recent developments, albeit in some cases now well within a second decade.
Airbus’ A320 family Final Assembly Line in Mobile opened in September 2015. The FAL is producing 3.5 A320s per month and will reach its initial target of 4/mo by year end, slightly ahead of schedule. There is land capacity to expand to 8/mo.
Earlier this month, Airbus and Bombardier announced that their new venture will establish an FAL in Mobile.