767 Tankers

Talking up the tanker

The first KC-767 tanker will soon roll off the assembly line. The first of four for the Italian Air Force, it will be hailed by Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher as proof that Boeing can give the US Air Force what it wants. Four additional 767 tankers will be built for Japan. Boeing also hopes to sell two or three to the UAE.

Another article notes that if the USAF decides on the 787 platform (ex-7E7) for its new tankers

“It’s pretty far out. First time they could get a tanker on that is probably 2010-11-12, somewhere out there. That’s the problem there, because right now, with the sales we’ve got, the production line is chock-a-block full early on with commercial customers.”

And there are concerns that the 787, designed to maximize efficiency, won’t make a good tanker anyway.

While Boeing remains a natural to build new tankers, the recent problems have created problems with the politicians who decide what goes to who. And John McCain, the leading critic of the previous 767 lease plan/rip-off, hasn’t let up.

Boeing’s biggest problem on Capitol Hill is that it has generated a lot of anger from McCain, who is to take over the Armed Services subcommittee that controls Air Force procurement.

McCain has complained that executives in Boeing’s Washington, D.C., offices stalled his tanker-deal investigation for two years, and he has said that during a meeting with Stonecipher last February, he’d reached agreement that executives such as Rudy deLeon, Boeing’s top lobbyist in D.C., would be disciplined. Boeing never followed through, and the result is deLeon remains unwelcome in McCain’s office.

To smooth things over with Congress, Boeing is counting on old friends of McCain, such as former White House Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein; former Sen. Warren Rudman of Vermont, who conducted an internal investigation of company ethics for Boeing last year; and the retired head of Boeing’s D.C. office, Stan Ebner.

Stonecipher, through a spokesman, declined to discuss the frosty situation.

Meanwhile, EADS continues to push for its Airbus A330-based tanker.


  1. Would be nice to see a totally brand new aircraft, such as the 787 being used for a tanker. This would mean a very long life, as we can see happened with the KC-135. With the new Trent engines that the aircraft will have, it promises to be a very effiecient aircraft. Thus, it will probably save more money this way, but I doubt people in politics will see this though. EADS have no chance in this market, as contracts will be minimal, and developmental costs very high. As EADS has no experience in this field, and their market is severely limited to those countries in Europe. The problem with the European market is the severe unwillingness to spend and money in the military (I live in the UK, and the military spending is drying up in this country, and they are hard pushed even for their special forces to acquire the basic items the grunt in the US Army gets (ie. goggles etc. especially at the start of the war, where they did not even all get bullet-proof vests)

  2. Vstress: I would think the 787 would be good, too, but there’s concern that the efficiency-first design won’t lend itself very well to the heavy-duty tanker workload. I don’t know enough to have an opinion on it. I don’t really have any problem with the 767 tanker itself. It was the shitty lease deal and shady dealings that brought it about that irritated me. I hope they can get that straightened out and reworked so that the AF doesn’t end up paying for John McCain being pissed…