2008-03-02 - A330 tanker win in USAA330 alias KC-45 wins USAF tanker competition
EADS/Northrop Grumman schlagen Boeing<br /> On Friday afternoon, Feb. 29, the US Air Force announced it has selected Northrop Grumman Corp. to build its next-generation air-refueling tanker aircraft.
The contract calls for up to 179 new KC-45A tankers to be built over the next decade or so at a cost of around $35 billion. Tanker aircraft are used to refuel other aircraft while in flight. "This initial contract for the newly named KC-45A will provide significantly greater air refueling capabilities than our current fleet of Eisenhower-era KC-135s," Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne told reporters at a Pentagon news conference. The new tanker "will be able to refuel U.S. and allied aircraft in every area of responsibility, worldwide, 24 hours a day, in adverse weather and be equipped with defensive systems," Wynne said. The new aircraft also will used to carry cargo, passengers, and medical patients, the Air Force secretary said.
The Airbus-Northrop Grumman partnership had competed against the Boeing Co. for the tanker contract, said Sue C. Payton, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition. Payton cited the transparency of the contracting competition, noting both enterprises had received regular feedback from the Air Force on how they were performing throughout the process. "Northrop Grumman clearly provided the best value to the government," Payton said, noting the Airbus-allied group's plane earned superior marks for mission capability, past performance and in several other categories. "I would tell you, that, overall, Northrop Grumman did have strong areas in aerial refueling and in airlift," Payton said. There was "no bias" involved in the awarding of the contract, she emphasized. Both competitors will be debriefed in coming weeks, Payton said, noting there is an appeal process.
If everything goes well, the first test aircraft should be flying by 2010, said Air Force Gen. Arthur J. Lichte, commander of Air Mobility Command based at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. Air Mobility Command provides the U.S. military with passenger, cargo, tanker and other aircraft support. The Air Force should receive the first group of operational KC-45A aircraft around 2013, Lichte said. A video featuring the A330 tanker is available here.. (Source: Northrop Grumman)