While Boeing and Northrop Grumman/EADS prepare to lock horns again for the U.S. tanker replacement program, one might be forgiven for thinking that there were only two sources for modern jet tankers. IAI’s Bedek Aviation Group would certainly disagree.
Battle lines were drawn here this week for round three of the Great Tanker War. Conflict is likely to break out next month, when the Pentagon is expected to issue a new draft request for proposals (RFP) for the KC-X program. Boeing said that it may now offer a tanker version of the 777.
Embraer has redesigned its C-390 tactical transport after advice from the Brazilian Air Force (FAB). The new configuration has a larger fuselage, a new wing and a T-tail, and therefore now has much less commonality with the EMB-190 regional airliner. The FAB is expected to launch the program with an order for at least 22 aircraft.
Lockheed SP-2H, Reno, Nev., Sept. 1, 2008–The Lockheed Neptune air tanker was destroyed after losing power and crashing two miles from Reno Stead Airport, killing the two ATP-rated pilots and a flight mechanic. A witness who watched the airplane take off reported seeing flames coming from the left engine when the airplane was at about 100 to 300 feet agl. The left wing was engulfed in flames.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates last week called off the revised KC-X tanker solicitation before the final request for proposal (RFP) was issued.“We can no longer complete a competition that would be viewed as fair and objective in this highly charged environment,” he said.
Northrop Grumman’s defensive systems division has been awarded a $93 million contract to supply its large aircraft infrared countermeasures system for the RAF’s Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft program. The systems will be supplied to Thales UK, one of the members of the AirTanker consortium that is supplying 14 A330-200 aircraft for the FSTA requirement.
The U.S. KC-X tanker win in February was a major breakthrough for EADS (as part of the Northrop Grumman team), which has established operations in Mobile, Alabama, already and started to relocate A330 freighter activity there, too. But the champagne corks are back in after the U.S. GAO in June upheld seven points in Boeing’s protest at the U.S. Air Force procurement.
With the attachment of its wings and the hanging of the engines last month, Boeing’s first P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft is right on schedule and could soon be earning its first international order, according to the manufacturer.
Production of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules has been assured for many years to come, thanks to the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (SOC). The unit has ordered a new version, designated HC/MC-130J, to replace its existing fleet of HC-130s and MC-130s used for combat search and rescue and special forces operations. Last week, Lockheed Martin received a contract for the first six aircraft, with another eight to follow soon.
The Lockheed Martin and AgustaWestland HH-71 team have successfully conducted aerial refueling tests involving a Royal Air Force AW101 Merlin Mk3 helicopter and an Italian Air Force KC-130J tanker, the companies announced.