The U.S. Air Force’s much delayed and troubled attempts to procure a new-generation tanker hit an embarrassing snag in November, when the evaluating office inadvertently sent out technical assessments of each proposal to the opposing bidders. The documents in question were the Integrated Fleet Aerial Refueling Assessments (IFARA) that model tanker operations in various scenarios.
The first Airbus A330 future strategic tanker aircraft (FSTA) for the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) made its first flight after conversion on September 13. Three days later, the British legislature published a report that heavily criticized the $16 billion-plus procurement of the RAF’s new tankers via a private finance initiative (PFI).
Last week, Vince Cable, the business secretary in the new British government, heavily criticized the supply of 14 A330MRTTs to the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a private finance initiative (PFI). He told The Sunday Times that the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) is “a massively expensive and unnecessary commitment.”
In the U.S. Air Force KC-X competition size matters, but not much else, according to a Boeing briefing here. The company refused to discuss how its NewGen Tanker could be “combat ready” when substantial development work must be done. Citing competitive reasons, Boeing gave no technical details on the new cockpit, the new refueling boom, or even which version of the 767 it was based on.
Boeing will reveal more details here today about the NewGen Tanker, its entry for the third round of the U.S. Air Force KC-X competition. In the war of words accompanying the long-running and ill-starred contest, Boeing has not previously specified exactly how it will add a digital 787-style cockpit and a new fly-by-wire boom to the 767 airframe. Rival contender EADS North America (EADS NA) has again bid the A330MRTT, as the KC-45.
Talks to amend the Airbus A400M development and production contract will drag on into the autumn as the moratorium on funding imposed by the European partner nations continues.
Last week bidders handed in their latest proposals for the U.S. Air Force’s KC-X program, which seeks 179 new tanker/transports to replace the aging KC-135 fleet. The deadline had been extended to allow EADS North America to prepare a new proposal following the withdrawal of Northrop Grumman, with whom EADS had been partnered until March.
Lockheed Martin on May 27 announced the award of a $245 million contract covering the supply through Foreign Military Sales of three KC-130J Hercules tankers for the Kuwait Air Force (KAF). The first aircraft is scheduled for delivery in late 2013, with final delivery early in 2014. Congress was notified in July 2009 of a potential sale of up to eight C-130Js to Kuwait. The sale is being managed through the Navy program office.
The U.S. Department of Defense's undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics on May 14 certified to Congress that the proposed third Super Hornet/Growler multiyear procurement (MYP) met statutory requirements, including substantial savings. With this certification in place, the contract should proceed to cover the purchase of 124 aircraft over Fiscal Year 2010 through 2013.
Some in the business aviation industry leave behind their families and jobs to serve in active war zones. In the continuing AIN series intended to recognize those in our community who defend the way of life we continue to enjoy back home, senior editor David A. Lombardo spoke with Jet Works paint shop manager Chris Nath about his service in the Air Force Reserve. This is Chris’s story.