Tanker News

Pentagon meeting on aerial tanker slips to Feb. 22

Pentagon officials will review a $40 billion Air Force program to buy 179 jet-refueling planes on Feb. 22, more than a week later than expected, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Defense Department said on Monday.

The meeting of the Defense Acquisition Board, headed by chief Pentagon weapons buyer John Young, had already slipped to Feb. 13 from late January.

Is there any reason to hope that a decision will be coming soon?

Tanker bidders wage war in media

With the Air Force ready to award a rich contract for a new fleet of tanker planes, the two bidders — Boeing Co. and the team of Northrop Grumman Corp. and Airbus — are engaged in guerrilla marketing.

Pentagon rules limit communications between the bidders and the Department of Defense officials who will select a winner. The companies get around this restriction by sending blast e-mails to reporters and trade journals widely read by Air Force officials and by advertising in specialty publications, on buses and subways, and local radio stations.

The flurry of news releases and various news stories has been entertaining, if nothing else. Examples:

Italy to get two new KC-767s by mid-2008

Boeing plans to deliver the first two of four KC-767 air tankers to Italy by the end of June 2008.

Boeing said in a statement last week that it was “building four KC-767s for Italy with delivery of the first two tankers in the second quarter of 2008. To date, Boeing has logged more than 350 flights accumulating more than 1,000 flight hours on the KC-767.”

Boeing’s plane is about to go live. Unmentioned is the fact that this schedule is lagging far behind.

Boeing has a tense past with McCain

His role in killing an air tanker lease deal could make the firm wary of how it might fare if he’s elected

Oooo, be careful! If McCain is elected, Boeing might suffer. Better go EADS.

KC-767 completes first night refueling op

U.S. company Boeing said last week its KC-767 had carried out its first successful night refueling operation.

Boeing said in a statement that its KC-767 air tanker program made history Jan. 26 “when one if its aircrews successfully transferred fuel from a KC-767 tanker aircraft to an F-15E at night — the first nighttime refueling ever accomplished on a KC-767.”

Again, we’re looking at a Boeing product that is just about ready to go. And, again, no mention of the fact that it was supposed to be just about ready to go years ago.

Sen. Sam Brownback: Boeing is Best Tanker

Precisely because of the open nature of this competition, I can state confidently that Boeing, with its 75 years of experience building tankers, has put forward a superior proposal. Not insignificantly, the Boeing plan keeps production in the United States and hundreds of jobs in Kansas rather than making the program dependent on a foreign supplier.

A Senator from a state where a lot of the work will be done on one competitor coming out for that competitor’s plane? What a coincidence!


  1. Boeing airplanes are far superior to those Airbus pigs. Their vertical stabilizers tend to stay on, for one thing. That can really ruin your day when you lose a primary aerodynamic surface. Damn those pilots for thinking they could use a yaw control surface for controlling excessive yaw anyway. Of course, in my mind the most mind numbingly stupid things Airbus does are in the cockpit. For instance, they save money on servo motors by not back driving the throttle levers when the pilots have auto-throttles engaged. That means the engines can be running at full power and the throttle levers be back at idle. Then when the auto-throttles disengage suddenly the engines go from full power to idle. The pilot gets to figure out, not only why the auto-throttles stopped working, but why the airplane has suddenly lost power too. They also like to put all kinds of nifty automatic controls into their airplanes that sometimes work when the pilots least expect they will. These are things like their auto-land system that engages automatically when the pilot lowers the gear and the flaps. You remember, like the pilots did in that A340 that went into the trees at the Paris airshow a few years back. The pilots saw they were going into the trees and firewalled the throttles. Naturally, because the throttles were disconnected from the engines by the auto-throttle system pushing the levers forward did nothing. By the time they realized the airplane had decided to land in those trees, they didn’t have time to flip the switches that re-engaged the throttle levers. Not a good thing to have happen on the debut of your brand new airplane. I wonder if the couple of hundred dollars they saved on servo motors was worth that fiasco, which nearly cost the crew their lives? Yeah, I’m sure that’s exactly the company I want building our tankers.

  2. Personally – I would want the contract to go to some other company. Both Boeing & Airbus are quasi-governmental bloated pigs of companies. I would not give Boeing a pass on the stupid design awards. http://www.wired.com/politics/security/news/2008/01/dreamliner_security That aside, politics will demand that Boeing gets the contract. PS: Murdoc I really hate your Captcha codes – Or my maybe I eyes suck — and since I am a legend in my own mind, it must be your Captcha…

  3. That particular problem is not just a Boeing issue. Viruses can be a big problem for just about anything these days, and we have enemies who are specializing in research on specifically how to disrupt our high tech weapons in just that way. Even so, the worst virus that can hit an Airbus is the software out of the can.