It might be another decade before the Air Force gets any new refuelers to replace the current fleet of Eisenhower-era KC-135 planes, said Jim Albaugh, chief executive of Boeing’s St. Louis-based Integrated Defense Systems.
And why might it take so long? Because after years of wrangling, the Air Force still doesn’t know what it wants.
“If and when they define their requirements, we’ll be there with a small airplane, a medium-size airplane or a large airplane,” he said at a Credit Suisse First Boston conference with analysts. “At the rate we’re going, we’re not going to have a new tanker delivered until 2015 or 2016.”
Which is a weird thing to say, because the Air Force, while unsure of exactly what kind of tanker it’s looking for, apparently is willing to trade C-17s for them.