Air Force Tanker Contract Goes To Airbus

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Stunning news out this afternoon, as the Air Force announced that Airbus and Northrop Grumman have been awarded the $40 billion Air Force tanker deal.

According to the Air Force, the contract is for the right to build up to 179 tanker aircraft, to be called the KC-45A, for the Air Force.

“The tanker is our number one procurement priority right now,” said Air Force Gen. Duncan McNabb in a press release about the deal. “Buying the new KC-45A is a major step forward and another demonstration of our commitment to recapitalizing our Eisenhower-era inventory of these critical national assets.”

The KC-45A is expected to be able to provide refueling to both Air Force and Navy planes, while its predecessor, the KC-135, must be configured for one or the other before takeoff.

It was widely believed that Boeing held the edge in these negotiations. As one report said tonight, “Boeing officials must be feeling a little bit like the New England Patriots.”

This award comes after a scandal involving  the revelation that a top Boeing official had conducted illegal job negotiations with an Air Force acquisition official who later joined the company broke in 2001 — scuttling what was widely believed to be, at the time, a slam-dunk contract for Boeing.

One thing is for sure. Stars aren’t the only thing falling on Alabama tonight. So are dollar bills. A big part of the Airbus pitch on this contract was the fact they would manufacture the aircraft outside of Mobile, AL.

One thought on “Air Force Tanker Contract Goes To Airbus

  1. CatherineMAXjet

    Thank you, Holly. This is the most factual and neutral commentary I’ve read about the award of this huge contract. All other reports, from national media to industry groups, have been horribly biased against Northrop-Grumman/EADS and have not given N-G/EADS the credit it deserves for proposing a superior and versatile tanker for our Air Force. Boeing lost the contract, and now they and others are calling “foul” because an American company will not be building Air Force tankers. As an aside, it seems that the public is forgetting that Marine 1, scheduled to deliver this month, is a UK-Italian designed aircraft built by Lockheed-Martin. Thank you for not disparaging N-G/EADS in your report.

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