We wonder what took Boeing so long to make this obvious point: France is protectionist in its defense purchases and should quit complaining about the KC-X competition in the US. See this Reuters story.
There has been more foo-faw going on with the KC-X tanker competition in the past week, largely overshadowed by the first flight of the Boeing 787. Supporters of Northrop Grumman met with Pentagon officials to urge that changes be made in the Draft RFP to assure a fair and open competition.
As soon as this became public, supporters of Boeing did the same.
Bloomberg quotes the CEO of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems as saying the USAF Draft RFP for the KC-X competition favors the smaller 767.
Boeing Says Tanker Request Favors a 767-Based Plane (Update1)
2009-12-03 16:13:59.557 GMT
By Gopal Ratnam
Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) — Boeing Co. defense chief Dennis Muilenburg said the U.S. Air Force’s requirements for a new aerial refueling tanker favor a 767-based airplane.
“It’s important for us to allow the customer to finalize the requirement, but if you look at the current request for proposals it would push us toward a 767-based plane,” Muilenburg said today at a conference sponsored by Credit Suisse Group AG in New York.
Airbus has said it before but it is worth reminding people that if Northrop Grumman follows through on its statement that it will not bid the KC-30 in the KC-X competition unless significant changes are made to the Draft Request for Proposals (DRFP), Airbus won’t build an A330-200F assembly plant on its own in Mobile (AL).
We checked with Airbus immediately after Northrop’s announcement and a spokesman confirmed that the company’s position has not changed: there is no “business case” for an A330F final assembly line (FAL) without the KC-30 tanker contract.
Inside Defense, a subscription-only publication, today reported that a former defense procurement official believes the current KC-X tanker Draft RFP may violate the law. Here is what Inside Defense sent out in the public domain:
Former Top Procurement Official Questions KC-X Compliance with New Acquisition Law
The Pentagon’s solicitation for the KC-X aerial refueling competition is inconsistent with the 2009 Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act and may violate the law, according to a former top federal procurement officer.
That critique, by Robert Burton, a former deputy administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement and Defense Department veteran, comes as a powerful lawmaker and a key architect of the recently enacted weapon systems acquisition reform law — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — is raising questions about whether the KC-X draft request for proposals, issued on Sept. 25, complies with the new act.
Update: The Mobile Press Register has this story saying that the USAF won’t include the WTO dispute in the KC-X competition because WTO rules prohibit doing so while the case is pending–something we’ve been telling the doggone politicians since they started their campaign to include it.
While the drama over the 787 Line 2 siting dominated the news last week, there was some stuff happening on the KC-X tanker front.
Boeing released this video about its tanker program. Note that KC-767 is shown with winglets, which in airline service are improving fuel burn by more than 4%.
We addressed the Governor’s Eastern Washington Aerospace Summit October 7, 2009, in Spokane, outlining a number of opportunities that aerospace in Washington State should pursue to grow.
Here is the press release on this address, and below the jump is a link to our presentation.
Washington Should Look Beyond Tradition to Grow Aerospace
Issaquah, WA, October 7, 2009: Washington State officials should look beyond traditional businesses to grow aerospace opportunities here, said Scott Hamilton, managing director of Leeham Co., in a speech today before the Eastern Washington Governor’s Aerospace Summit in Spokane.
“State officials and stakeholders understandably focus on Boeing and its supporting supplier base when it comes to Washington aerospace,” Hamilton said. “But global aerospace is changing and it is a mistake to maintain this focus. The time has come to dramatically expand thinking to adjust to realities, opportunities and new requirements of commercial and defense aviation and aerospace.”
This is the fourth in a series of reports from the EADS media day and the Paris Air Show. We will be off-line Wednesday while returning to to USA.
Source: Winds of Change. Rendering of the KC-767 and KC-777.
Source: Catch 4 All: Comparisons of KC-777, KC-30, KC-767, KC-135 footprints.
Boeing held a dedicated tanker briefing Tuesday (June 16) to add detail to the announcement Monday by IDS President Jim Albaugh, who said the company’s tanker program has been remained KC-7A7. This designation reflects the ambiguity of what airplane Boeing will offer: a 767-based or a 777-based aircraft.
Here is an interesting think piece about the controverisal proposal by some Members of Congress to split the KC-X tanker procurement between Boeing and Northrop Grumman.
Aviation Week reports the FAA has certified Boeing’s Wedgetail, the 737-based electronics airplane ordered by the Australian services. The program, which includes electronics from Northrop Grumman, is years behind schedule.
Update, May 4: Veto threat over split tanker effort: read all about it.
Update, May 3:
US Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), chair of a House appropriations committee, has dropped (for the moment) his effort to insert into the FY2010 budget language requiring a split buy between Boeing and Northrop for the KC-X tanker. See this story.
Well, blow us down. Loren Thompson, the defense analyst, now favors a split buy.
He’s been all over the map on this procurement. A big defender of the Boeing KC-767 lease deal when that was on the table. For the KC-767 vs. the Northrop KC-30. Defending the KC-30 award after it was given. Supporting the Boeing protest. Now this.
Followers (including this column) of Thompson, who is quoted frequently as a defense expert, respect his thinking but can’t help be a little baffled on this program.
Thompson’s rationale is what we’ve been advocating since we began following the competition several years ago: split the buy for operational reasons. The two tankers are differently sized: some missions are better suited for the KC-767 and some are better suited for the KC-30. Double the procurement, retire the old KC-135s more quickly.
On the other hand, US Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Boeing/WA), claims he was quoted out of context by KIRO TV a while back, which reported Dicks could “live with” a split buy. Now Dicks is back on his sole-source band wagon (for Boeing), even though Boeing now is fine with the idea.
And now, a plug for our Eco-Aviation conference. More information may be found here.