Thursday, June 19, 2008
The USAF Tanker Nightmare Continues
A few months ago the USAF made the right decision to select the Northrop Grumman KC-45 Tanker to replace our ancient and rapidly diminishing tanker capability. This tanker beat the Boeing tanker because it was bigger, held more fuel and cargo, and could roll off the assembly line faster to meet our urgent war fighter needs. It was a fair and open selection.
First, understand that without the ability to refuel anywhere around the world, our air force would lose a majority of its global reach/capability. We depend on air refueling to protect our nation and the free world.
That said, the GAO office announced that the USAF made minor mistakes in their source selection process, so in order to be fair to the losing company (Boeing) the Air Force must now restart the selection process, which will take at least two more years to accomplish.
Two more years of pilots and crews flying 50 year old tankers into combat zones.
Two more years of wasting millions of dollars to service airframes and spares that were never supposed to fly this long.
Two more years of jeopardizing the people and the mission.
There is so much I wish I could say about Boeing's intentions and priorities, but I can't. Their conduct during the initial source selection process two years ago that landed people in jail and delayed this effort speaks for itself. All I can say is either we find a way to produce the Northrop Grumman version now, or we select both companies to produce both aircraft. Having two tankers is not unheard of, but it's not cheap to maintain two in the long run.
Yet a compromise will help overcome the rapidly aging fleet, help strengthen our ability to protect or nation, and could save the lives of the men and women at risk in these ticking time bombs.
Stop wasting time and start building tankers.
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posted by El Capitan at 8:22 AM
What they aren't touching upon in the media is that the work going into assembly of the airframe is really not that significant when compared to the total amount of work that goes into a new plane design. The engines, avionics, power distribution, landing gear, instrumentation, refueling equipment, etc, etc when added together make up more of the total work and are just as much US on the KC-30 as they are on the 767.
The company I work for is on either plane (granted we had more on the 767) but to be honest I think Boeing's bid was more $ for less plane because they thought there was no way in hell they could loose. The bottom line - Northrup brought their A game and Boeing didn't. Re-competing the bid is the wrong move. Everyone looses.
It would certainly seem that something is strange between the GAO Office and Boeing, huh?
That is sad news.