Not content with the delayed 767-based tanker project, Boeing is hoping to replace the Navy’s P-3 Orion recon and patrol aircraft with modified 737s. Lockheed, which built the original Orion, is hoping to build modified P-3s instead.
Lockheed’s proposal calls for a new aircraft based on its P-3 Orion, a propeller plane that has been used by the Navy since the 1960s. It argues that its system is both cost-effective and time-proven.
Nisbet calls Boeing the “dark horse” in this race. He believes the Navy may be leaning toward Lockheed, contending that its airplane can fly lower and slower than the 737 and therefore may serve the Navy’s surveillance needs better.
“A 737 is not typically the plane you want for loitering low over the ocean, so it’s a bold interpretation of what the Navy might need,” he said.
That seems to make sense to me. I don’t mind spending money, and I don’t mind spending it in a way that helps keep someone important afloat. I especially don’t mind spending on American products instead of, say, Airbus products.
But if 21st-century prop-driven planes are what we need, that’s what we should buy.
The story also notes that there are outstanding orders for 824 737s but only 25 767s. If the KC-767 tanker falls through, it could mean the end of the 767 line. If it is approved, the line could run for 20 more years.