U.S. Tanker Decision Still Awaited

 - January 7, 2011, 4:48 AM
The Royal Australian Air Force is the launch customer for the Airbus Military multi-role transport A330MRTT, Airbus’s contender for the KC-X competition.

The Pentagon’s decision in the third round of the KC-X competition is now expected next month. Meanwhile, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hear testimony concerning the inadvertent leak of competition-sensitive data to the competing contractors. Boeing said that “some unresolved questions remain” about the mix-up, which saw the results of the DoD’s Integrated Fleet Aerial Refuelling Assessment (IFARA) for the KC-45 (A330MRTT) and the 767 NewGen tanker released to Boeing and EADS North America, respectively. The IFARA is one of three criteria by which the DoD may adjust the proposed price of each contender to reach the total evaluated price, the others being adjustments for fuel burn and military construction costs.

In other statements last month, Boeing claimed that the A330MRTT as previously sold internationally did not meet nearly a quarter of the 372 mandatory KC-X requirements. AIN notes that the EADS KC-45 proposal must have addressed these alleged deficiencies, otherwise it would have been declared void at an early stage of the latest competition. For its part, EADS said it had already begun to transfer employees to Mobile, Ala., where the KC-45 would be produced. The company reaffirmed its commitment to building commercial A330 freighters alongside KC-45s at Mobile. However, AIN has learned that the confirmed order backlog for the A330F is not large.    

Meanwhile, an end-of-year summary of A330MRTT news from Airbus Military revealed that the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)–the launch customer–has still not accepted its first aircraft. “Final handover will take place once the lengthy review of all related documentation and activities are complete,” the company said. The RAAF’s new tanker is now two years late. Boeing is also still waiting for Italy to accept its first KC-767, an event that was originally scheduled for 2006.