Three stories on the USAF tanker saga:

Air Force presses case for faster replacement of tankers
Even if replacement began immediately, some planes would be 80 years old by the time they’re retired.

U.S. leaning toward medium tanker but requirements not set

The 767 and A330 are the leading medium-sized options.

U.S. Air Force: New tanker costs rise as delays drag on
Delays? Rising costs? No way! Current plans call for a winner to be chosen next year and the first deliveries to come in 2010.


  1. Maybe they wish to wait for the Airbus version to finish trials – it currently just underwent its first boom trials. The beef I have though is that they will never buy Airbus anyway (I will eat my hat if they do). The technology is out there and not complex, they just need to undergo trials to clear aircraft. They need to get on the move because these trials last forever themselves.

  2. I keep thinking the answer is the blended wing body- an all composite flying wing. Of course the boeing is afraid of betting the company on this, so we need to convince them to do it with tanker program. unfortunately mr. go with the army you have isnt that smart.

  3. Let’s think about that Aaron. Boeing doesn’t want to do it because it’s a huge financial risk. You are advocating the US military taking on that risk so that Boeing doesn’t have to, in order to convince them to develop it anyway. In doing so, you are transferring the risk to the US tax payers. Now, I think that’s not a bad idea. I think investment in technology is a good thing. Imagine if it works how much money the US will make from overseas orders, including possible passenger/cargo spinoffs. But how you think your politicians, and the average Joe American Taxpayer is going to think about your scheme? Do you really feel they’d call it a ‘smart’ move? I suspect if you ponder that a little you’ll answer your own question as to why Mr. Smarty Pants Rummy is not putting his weight behind this idea. It’s kind of like the civilian space program. It costs a lot of money and it makes you feel great but in the end is it really the best thing you could have spent that money on?

  4. When boeing developed the 747 they bet the company… now I heard it would take 250 orders (planes) for the A380 to pay off. If that kind of numbers are required-I think we should gaurantee that we will buy the second 100 planes produced using this new method. (all composite flying wing). at the same price (inflation adjusted)as the first one hundered. (plus a differential for extra work/equiptment/etc. due to it being a military plane.) Still plenty of risk for boeing. Lets remember the Comet- first modern comercial passenger jet- had to be completely recalled due to fatal design flaws… If the hull they come up with is flawed, they can be in for company killing recall.

  5. The blended wing body idea is in my view a pointless risk. Aaron I thought you disliked silly overspending like this (or was it a sarcastic comment?). Clearly the taxpayers would end up paying the bill: Yes the taxpayer would not pay the initial r+d costs, but eventually they need to make it pay off somehow. That would end up becoming a higher price per unit aircraft. If you think Boeing could make a profit through a large and long production run you should go study the costs of materials and then study some aeroelasticity concerning wing structures. Especially concering composite structures (which is an even more complex field). Therefore we will end up having a tanker fleet that is more expensive per aircraft than even the B-2 bomber.