Northrop Grumman rates its chances of clinching the KC-X contract as only 50 percent, if the U.S. Congress intervenes in the decision. Paul Meyer, who heads the company’s bid team, told Aviation International News of his confidence that the Pentagon would select the KC-45 again the second time around. But he fears that protectionist sentiment could overturn the verdict.
Airbus A330 MRTT
Northrop Grumman’s defensive systems division has been awarded a $93 million contract to supply its large aircraft infrared countermeasures system for the RAF’s Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft program. The systems will be supplied to Thales UK, one of the members of the AirTanker consortium that is supplying 14 A330-200 aircraft for the FSTA requirement.
The intense debate over the U.S. Air Force’s choice of a new tanker continues. Boeing claimed that the KC-767 was found to be “more survivable” than the Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) in the USAF evaluation. Northrop Grumman launched a new Web site to refute various allegations about its A330MRTT bid and ask why Boeing did not raise concerns about the selection process earlier.
Boeing delivered the first of four KC-767 Tankers to Japan yesterday, 15 months behind schedule. Before leaving U.S. airspace on a 14-hour ferry flight to Gifu airbase neat Nagoya, it flew in formation with the No. 2 airplane that will follow after the Japan Air Self-Defense Force completes a formal acceptance process.
EADS-Airbus said it would produce the A330-200 freighter on the same production line in Mobile, Ala., as the KC-30 tanker, if the U.S. Air Force selects that aircraft for its KC-X requirement. Northrop Grumman is bidding the KC-30 against the Boeing 767 tanker, and the Pentagon is due to announce its long-awaited choice at the end of this month.
The death of the Pentagon’s second-highest-ranking procurement official on October 15 could well delay the crucial decision on whether Boeing or Northrop Grumman/Airbus wins the U.S Air Force KC-X tanker competition.
The rival contenders for the huge U.S. Air Force KC-X competition for a new aerial tanker have been briefing the relative merits of the KC-30 and the KC-767 all round the show this week. But political considerations apart–and there are plenty of those–it all boils down to a simple fact: size matters.
EADS Military Transport Aircraft (MTA) has set its sights on half of the aerial-refueling-tanker market estimated at 600 aircraft for 30 countries over the next 20 years and has brought the first of four A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) airframes for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) here to underline its capability in the field.
Airbus expects to launch its long-delayed freighter version of the A330 by mid-year. An “Authority To Offer” for the A330-200F is expected next month, officials told Aviation International News last week.
Described as a “sunrise platform” by Marc Lindsley, Northrop Grumman’s director of business development for the Airbus A330-based KC-30 program, the aircraft is perceived to be a worthy successor to the KC-135, which will still be around for many years. He points to the success of the A330 in winning both the Australian and UK air force tanker competitions in which a transport capability was an important requirement.