This means the first tankers may be delivered in 2011 or 2012.
At an Air Force Association conference today in Washington, D.C., Boeing will make public for the first time a proposed U.S. Air Force refueling tanker based on its very large 777 commercial passenger jet — a potential alternative to a midsize 767 tanker.
According to a draft request for proposal (RFP) the Air Force issued Monday, the government requires a tanker that can double as a troop carrier and supply plane.
The proposed 777 tanker would have a much larger capacity for fuel, troops or cargo than either the currently offered 767 tanker or a rival offer based on the Airbus A330.
Boeing said a 777 tanker would have a maximum fuel capacity of “more than 350,000 pounds,” though a company source indicated it could stretch to more than 400,000 pounds of fuel. The Airbus tanker has a maximum fuel capacity of 250,000 pounds.
Boeing tanker spokesman Bill Barksdale said unveiling the 777 option is intended to convince observers the company is serious about providing an alternative to the original 767 tanker if the Air Force wants a bigger airplane.
The first 767 tanker, already delivered to the Italian Air Force, is still in testing. It sure would be nice to get some real-world information on how the thing performs.