There was news last week of two long-delayed air-refueling tanker contracts. The Italian air force (AMI–Aeronautica Militare Italiano) formally accepted into service two of the four Boeing KC-767 tanker-transports that it ordered more than eight years ago. But Airbus Military conceded that another few weeks will likely pass before the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) accepts its first two A330MRTTs.
Boeing has won the KC-X competition and been awarded a $3.5 billion contract for Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) of the 767 NextGen Tanker, including four aircraft. Follow-on contracts to procure 175 production aircraft in 18 lots will be worth at least $30 billion. The new tanker will be designated KC-46A and the first 18 are planned to be in service by 2017.
Boeing has won the KC-X competition and been awarded a $3.5 billion contract for engineering and manufacturing development of the 767 NextGen Tanker, including four aircraft. Follow-on contracts to procure 175 production aircraft in 18 lots will be worth at least $30 billion. The new tanker will be designated KC-46A and the first 18 are planned to be in service by 2017.
Airbus Military has flight-tested the fuselage refueling unit (FRU) of the A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) for the first time. The Cobham-supplied FRU is a hose-and-drogue system that is fitted to the version destined for the UK Royal Air Force as its future strategic tanker aircraft (FSTA). It transfers fuel at a greater rate than the underwing hose-and-drogue units that Cobham supplies for all A330MRTTs.
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.
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.
A version of the Boeing 767 dubbed “NewGen Tanker” will win the reopened U.S. Air Force KC-X competition by default, after Northrop Grumman declined to bid the Airbus A330MRTT.
Ten weeks after the deadline for comments on the draft RFP for the latest attempt to procure a new KC-X aerial refueling tanker, the Pentagon has still not released the final document. It now says to expect this by the end of the month, and that some changes have been made. Northrop Grumman said it would not bid unless the final RFP was changed to give credit for the greater capacity of the A330MRTT (aka KC-45).