and Northrop Grumman submitted this week their competing bids
for the US Air Force' KC-135 tanker replacement program (KC-X).
Boeing's 7,000-page proposal describes a tanker uniquely designed
for its primary air refueling mission, but also capable of moving
cargo, passengers, patients and medical crewmembers.
The Boeing Global Tanker Team producing the KC-767 Advanced
Tanker includes Smiths Aerospace, Rockwell Collins, Vought Aircraft
Industries, Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney and Spirit AeroSystems.
The experienced team has proven expertise in aerial refueling
systems, network centric operations, integrated avionics solutions
and lean manufacturing concepts.
The KC-30 proposal submission represents over two and-a-half
years developmental effort, by the Northrop Grumman-led KC-30
Tanker Team comprising a global group of companies including
Northrop Grumman, EADS, General Electric, Sargent Fletcher and
Both teams highlight the vision and long term benefits of the
new tanker, which will compensate for the huge acquisition cost
or the tanker fleet replacement. "The competition to build
the KC-X is as much a competition of vision as it is of aircraft,"
said Scott J. Seymour, corporate vice president and president
of Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems sector. "The KC-767
Advanced Tanker will do for refueling what the C-17 has done
for airlift - it will revolutionize mobility operations,"
said James Albaugh, president and CEO, Boeing Integrated Defense
Systems. "Right-sized to enable access to 1,000 more bases
than the KC-135, this robust aircraft allows commanders to deploy
more tankers, ensures more booms are in the sky, covers more
refueling orbits and offloads more fuel."
The KC-X program will be worth $30-40 billion. The projected
life cycle cost of the new tankers has been estimated at $200
billion. The Air Force plans spending about $8.2 billion until
2010 on development and testing, and expects the first squadron
of 16 aircraft to become operational by 2013.
Based on a new version of the 767-200 Long Range Freighter,
Boeing's KC-767 Advanced Tanker's innovations include an advanced
fly-by-wire boom, new wing refueling pods, a centerline hose
drum refueling unit, an advanced commercial digital flight deck
and a third-generation remote vision refueling system. Boeing
stresses the 'all American' base of its aircraft which will
be designed, built and supported by 44,000 Americans and 300
U.S. suppliers. They also argue that their aircraft is more
fuel efficient, and is expected to save about $10 billion in
fuel costs, compared to the KC-30. Boeing plans to produce the
tanker at its facilities in Everett, Washington, on the existing
767 commercial production line. Installation of military refueling
systems and flight test activities will take place at the company's
finishing center in Wichita, Kansas.
Northrop Grumman highlights the added benefits provided by
the larger A330 platform. "The KC-30 Tanker will provide
our Air Force leaders and combatant commanders everything they
have asked for in air-to-air refueling and more." Northrop
Grumman's KC-30 Tanker carries 45,000 more pounds of fuel than
a KC-135, providing a significant boost to the U.S. Air Force's
global reach. The KC-30 is also designed to refuel Navy and
coalition aircraft, and to serve as a multi-role transport aircraft
to move passengers, cargo and medical evacuation patients. The
KC-30 incorporates defense systems, precision fly-by- wire technology,
and the ability to integrate a communications suite and a global
support network. "Northrop Grumman and its KC-30 Tanker
Team are in this competition to win it." Said Seymour.
Based on the commercially available Airbus A330 platform, KC30
will be assembled in Mobile, Ala. This platform was selected
in the last three worldwide tanker competitions to support the
air forces of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United Arab