Tanker Moves Through JROC

Tanker Moves Through JROC

The amazing competition between Boeing and Northrop Grumman for the airborne tanker program moved into a new stage when the Joint Requirement Oversight Council met today to consider the freshly drawn requirements. A Joint Staff official confirmed the JROC meeting.

The Air Force drew up the new requirements and the JROC, headed by Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is supposed to make sure the new standards hold up to scrutiny. In practice, the JROC usually approves new requirements since most of the expertise for drafting them resides in the services. Of course, this set will get unusual scrutiny because of its visibility and Cartwright is known as a believer in the council’s importance. On top of that, the tanker is the top acquisition priority of both the Air Force and Transportation Command, as Schwartz noted during a press conference here today.

From what little I have heard about the requirements, it seems pretty clear that the Air Force has compressed and simplified the requirements to avoid the likelihood of another award protest but has not changed its mind about what capabilities are needed. Of course, no service types are talking yet about what the new requirements might be in light of the polite gag order issued by Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz.


But Rep. Jack Murtha’s plan to split the buy — and avoid what would seem to be an otherwise unavoidable second protest — would seem to allow both companies some breathing room. The politics of the dual buy are formidable. The Air Force and OSD have opposed the idea, arguing it would cost the service enormous amounts of money and complicate its logistics. But the Air Force’s opposition may be at an end — at least for the initial purchase.

I understand Murtha, chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, spoke with Chief of Staff Schwartz around the first of the year about the tanker deal. It was after that conversation that Murtha went public with his dual buy proposal. So it would appear that Schwartz has accepted that there is no alternative given the fierce competition between the two companies for the billions at stake.

But if the requirements have not changed substantially then the balance would still seem to tilt toward Northrop Grumman. Northrop has one tanker built, a second airframe ready for conversion to a tanker and could field a total of five or six tankers in the two to four years before Boeing is likely to get a working tanker into the air. So even with a split buy, Northrop should be able to get plenty of time in the air demonstrating its capability and ironing out the inevitable problems that arise early in a program while Boeing would still be building its first planes.

Here is where the politics would become crucial. The powerful Senate defense leaders such as Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain R-Ariz.) have gone quiet, apparently waiting for the budget and for the new RFP. However, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chair of the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee, has apparently been in discussions with Murtha and so far appears willing to pursue the dual buy. After the initial buy however, Boeing would need substantial support from key appropriators and authorizers to turn the initial buy into regular procurement. So far, it’s unclear just how much support they will get. One suggestion — don’t forget the formidable influence Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) can bring to bear on the House Appropriations Committee.

Join the Conversation

So basically there are enough lawyers and politicians involved that the air force is going to throw up it’s hands and buy both, just to shut everyone up.

So, they’ve concluded that since whatever company loses is going to bitch and keep this thing in limbo forever, they’ll just buy both.

What was the point of the competition? Sure, we need some new tankers, but who is looking out for the taxpayers?

before Boeing is likely to get a working tanker into the air.

Sorry to disagree.….Boeing has already delivered tankers to Japan and Italy. Production line is up and running and tanker hardware already proven and sourced.

Airbus/Northrop still have to build a factory in the US.….makes no sense to me.

It is time to by American.…not France built Airbus

The last time I checked Mobile Alabama was in the U.S. I know the sentiment is to buy from an American company, however, considering the past performance of Boeing compliancy and oversight issues it makes more sense to go with the better product.
The tax payer should not be on the hook for a lesser product just to satsify politicians. That kind of decision making is what got this country in debt.
By the way, the tankers you are referring to in Japan and Italy are vastly different than the proposal to the Air Force, not only are they different, they also have a completely different missoin capability goal and riddled with kinks that will take years to correct.

I would prefer Boeing just because I like most of their airframes, however they are behind the times when it comes to R&D and shake down of their products.
Competition is the American way and they lost.

Here we go again. The USAF will N-E-V-E-R navigate the political morass and get a working tanker if they continue to insist on buying airbus. Do they really think the administration will allow itself to be tarred and feathered over the selection of a European aircraft given the state of the economy and the numbers of Americans drawing unemployment? Do they really want to expose themselves to criticism for ‘hollowing out’ the industrial base?

Like it or not, this procurement is so politically charged that what the USAF really wants is almost an afterthought.

Sole source it to Boeing. Its the only way the USAF will get a tanker. The French will just have to get over it.

But wait…France, Germany, and Spain might want to consider canceling the A400M and buying C-17s and C-130s in exchange for a hefty KC-30 buy? I’m sure something could be worked out under those conditions.…

Here we go again. I do like this though:

“But wait…France, Germany, and Spain might want to consider canceling the A400M and buying C-17s and C-130s in exchange for a hefty KC-30 buy? I’m sure something could be worked out under those conditions”

The French will just have to get over it.

It is time to by American….not France built Airbus

If the new requirements are written by the USAF then it likely favors the KC-767AT. If the new requirements are written by pinheads in the DOD then it likely favors the KC-30.

***

Rob C,

Yes Mobile Alabama is in the U.S. BUT the KC-30 would only be ASSEMBLED there, it would STILL be MANUFACTURED in Europe. The 85% US content for the KC-767AT is more money in the US economy than the 58% US content (of which 15+% is the engines) for the KC-30 no matter how you want to try & spin it.

True the US tax payer should not be on the hook for a lesser product just to satsify politicians. Which is why the politicians should get out of the process. If not of all the politicians we would HAVE KC-767s already. But bigger is NOT better in this case. In fact the KC-X source selection team could not even justify how the KC-30 meet some of the requirements & remember how the model data had to be altered just so that the KC-30 COULD complete some scenarios…

Yes the Italian & Japanese KC-767s (of which there are 4 — at least 3 of which have transfered fuel in flight) are different from the KC-767AT proposed for the KC-X but the Australian KC-30B (of which there is 1 — which has FINALLY had its operational boom installed this year) is ALSO different from the KC-30 proposed for the KC-X.

Do you not realize that Boeing currently builds the most advandced airliner in the world? It is hardly behind the times.

To All:
– If you want a “Buy American” Tanker — neither option is it.

Boeing’s major airframe components are manufactured overseas and shipped here for final assembly.

Airbus’ solution does the same.

Buy from an American company, then? Both Boeing and Northrop Grumman are American companies.

For all the “Buy American” protectionists, before you go too far, consider that the American Aerospace Industry sells more than 4x to Europe what European companies sell here. So, if we go protectionist, there will be huge layoffs in America as Europe retaliates and implements “Buy EU” requirements.

The real answer maybe just to consolidate all the Tanker X, Tanker Y, and Tanker Z buy numbers into a large multi-year procurement. Buying from both will get us the total number of Tankers needed while maintaining the current 2 logistical trails we have (KC-135 and KC-10).

Ah check your info Comie…WICHITA, Kan., Feb. 27, 2009 — The Boeing Company on Feb. 25 transferred the third KC-767J tanker to the company’s Japanese partner, Itochu Corp., for delivery to the Japan Ministry of Defense (MOD) and Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). When Itochu officially delivers the aircraft in March, it will join two KC-767J tankers that Japan received in 2008.

The 767 tanker is 90% plus USA made! Your thinking the 787.….check your facts!

Buy both tankers in a competitive dual buy. Employee 95,000 workers in the US in May of 2009 rather than 42,000 to 45,000 for one company in May of 2011 or 2012 after more appeals. By then the economy will be in hyperinflation and all the tankers will be cheap in comparison to the contract awards. After initial orders give 65–70% of the remaining contract to the team who delivers on time and on money. Why is Boeing afraid of a competitive dual buy? Maybe they cannot compete with Northrop’s Mobile plant.

Radarnav,

‘Only’ ~30% of the 767 AIRFRAME is manufactured overseas. Where as 95+% of the A330 AIRFRAME is manufactured overseas.

***

Radarnav & SamHouston,

There are mutiple problems which make buying BOTH the KC-767 & the KC-30 impractical.

First & foremost is that the KC-30 simply does not fit the US. It is too big (larger than all current US military aircraft except for the C-5 & a handful of specialized 747-based aircraft) to be a good KC-135 replacement ‘medium tanker’ & yet being BIGGER & HEAVIER than the KC-10 lack the fuel capacity to be a good KC-10 replacement ‘large tanker’.

Second is that the reason we need to start obtaining new tankers soon (aside from the fact that the 130+ KC-135Es have already been taken out of service thus we are now lacking sufficient numbers of tankers & wearing out the ones we do have faster than previously estimated) is because the idiots controlling the purse strings won’t provide enough funds to procure more than 12–15 tanker per year so it will take more than 35 years (from when we START) to replace the current fleet.

Third, given how long it will take to replace the current fleet & that the KC-30 does not cut it as a ‘large tanker’ (despite how truly LARGE it is) means that for a significant period of time we will likely operate FIVE different tankers [KC-135, KC-10, KC-767AT, KC-30 & some other KC-Y tanker] & possibly even SIX given that by the time we start with what is the KC-Z that it may be based on a platform not even flying today.

Listen this was given to northrop grumman. They are more then ready and have the better plane. boeing will give most of their work to overseas so what is everyone talking about please alabama is in the us and they need the help there so please

With all the time and money the US has spent, and will spend, going over and over and round and round with this tanker deal, it would have been cheaper for the tax payer to have let the “Original” tanker deal given to Boeing before Airbus/Northrop was ever in the picture. We could have gotten the deal done, then punished the crooks afterward! It would have cost a lot less (even having overpaid for the tankers) than what its costing us now!

peggy k,

Stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

pfcem: Is the Air Force not capable of flying 5 tankers? That’s only 20% more than they would operate if they only order from Boeing or Northrop. The Air Force needs tankers. US needs stimulus. Let’s split the contract, employ 100,000 people starting this spring.…and may the better tanker when the majority of the future contracts.

Your argument that Northrop’ tanker is too big is specious.

The Air Force needs both tankers…not just the small Boeing offering. With Eastern European and Arabian airports becoming fewer, the sevice needs operationally longer range tankers and short range tankers.

SamHouston,

Sure the USAF CAN operate 5 different tankers but it is foolish to do so when the job can be done BETTER & LESS COSTLY with fewer types of tankers.

Yes the USAF needs tankers. Yes the US economy needs stimulus. What it does not need is to waste limited defense dollars on a tanker that simply does not fit its requirements (too big to be a good KC-135 replacement ‘medium tanker’ & lacks the fuel capacity to be a good KC-10 replacement ‘large tanker’). It is not like the Obama administaration is taking advantage of the need for stimulus to INCREASE defense spending & ‘kick start’ the replacement of so much military hardware that NEEDS to be replaced — no, THAT would actually be GOOD for the country.

No my argument that the EADS (DO NOT BE FOOLED INTO THINKING IT IS A NORTHROP TANKER) is too big is undeniable fact. It is LARGER than ANY other aircraft currently in US inventory except for the C-5 & a handful of specialized 747-based aircraft (yet is 110,000 lbs short of fuel capacity vs the SMALLER & lighter KC-10 ‘large tanker’) AND would require MASSIVE infrastructure improvement to operate in sufficient numbers from sufficient airfields in order to even do as good a job as the KC-135R does.

_B-52: 160.9′ x 185.0′
_C-17: 174.0′ x 171.3′ (including winglets)
KC-10: 181.6′ x 165.4′
KC-30: 193.6′ x 197.8′

No the US does not need the too big to be a good KC-135 replacement ‘medium tanker’ & lacks the fuel capacity to be a good KC-10 replacement ‘large tanker’ KC-30. It needs a tanker no bigger than the 767–200 to replace the KC-135 [the KC-767AT is larger than the KC-135 & exceeds the KC-X fuel offload vs range requiremnts by >25,000 lbs or >500nm AS WELL AS the KC-X airlift requirements — i.e. something SMALLER than the KC-767AT could meet the requirements] & something like a 777–200 or A340 or A350 [similar/a bit larger in size as the KC-30 but capable of carrying MUCH more fuel].

Another way to look at it is IF the US were to DOUBLE the average fuel offload per sortie that it has been in recent conflicts (ODS & later) the KC-767AT is more than capable of doing so — the KC-30 OTOH requires MAJOR infrastructure improvement in order to operate in sufficient numbers from sufficient airfields in order to even do as good a job as the KC-135R does [we do not need to replace the KC-135R because it lacks the fuel capacity/offload capability but because it will not last forever].

And the fewer airfields you are able to operate from the MORE important it is to get as many tankers per airfield as you can.

With the countries current fiscal situation, I find it hard to believe that the Airforce would even think of buying from two different manufactuers. This will end up costing the tax payers billions in logistics alone, and at this moment in time, we need jobs here in the USA, not in France! Everyone needs to write thier Congressman and tell them who they work for! Its time the people had a say in where thier tax dollars are spent.

From a cost standpoint, logistics and infrastructure costs supporting multiple aircraft types is always higher than a single type. (K-135A,E, R, etc) That is one reason the E’s are departing.
Bigger tanker, more fuel offload is not the best answer, you need tail numbers to allow scheduling flexibility and the USAF tanker fleet is scattered all over the world supporting multiple missions. We don’t have enough C-17 “tails” for the flexibility needed. Too few tanker tails will be even worse.

DOD needs to buy the best tanker for the AF. Unfortunately, business interests, politics and just plain greed will play a much larger role than the AF requirement, no matter how much justification is behind the requirement.

In reference to david overgard February 27th, 2009 at 6:28 am,I hate to correct him but, boeing delivered the aircraft late, and the last time I checked they were not accepted yet as they were not working properly. Northrup has a flying aircraft, and working fuel boom.

Boeing builds a lot of the aircraft they sell in China at: boeing China. The factory that NGC wants to build is in Alabama, USA.
Lets quit letting the crooks in congress drive this thing an go with the better aircraft.

Someone help me here…I don’t understand. They are saying…

“But if the requirements have not changed substantially then the balance would still seem to tilt toward Northrop Grumman. Northrop has one tanker built, a second airframe ready for conversion to a tanker and could field a total of five or six tankers in the two to four years before Boeing is likely to get a working tanker into the air. So even with a split buy, Northrop should be able to get plenty of time in the air demonstrating its capability and ironing out the inevitable problems that arise early in a program while Boeing would still be building its first planes.”

I just read that Boeing has delivered two (2) KC-767’s to Japan on a buy of three(3). If that is the case, it would seem Boeing is much farther along with their tanker than this article indicated. (Assuming the A/F still wants the 767 and not the 777) Also I believe the Italians have also taken delivery of their KC-767 as well but I have not confirmed this. If all this is true, then the reporting of these programs continue to be slanted towards Airbus/EADS.

Buying both is, from a user standpoint, just insane. Impracticable as well. However due to the blind politics it may be the only way left. However, I still can not forget that France is NOT our friend. I remember when we had to visit Libya our aircraft had to fly around France (not allowed to fly over) and return the same way. If France gets another wild hair and dislikes our politics or foreign policies, they could easily stop production of their portion of the tanker and/or spares that would cripple our air refueling capabilities. Yes, Boeing has portions of their 767 made overseas but they have the capability of producing the entire aircraft within the USA if need be. They are not totally dependant on a foreign source for sub-assemblies.

To Reader Bob:

Your screen name is evidently a misnomer. If you would read the other comments that came before yours, then your question would be answered.

Secondly,

Northrup/EADS won fair and square, not cheating like Boeing did the first time. There has been huge investment in Mobile already, and it will only mushroom if it is awarded the way it should be. I am confused though by the “Buy America” notion. How can anyone expect any machine as complicated as an airplane to be produced all in America? Manufacturing jobs have been leaving our shores for decades now, so Boeing is hardly doing any better than NORTHRUP/eads would be in assembling them here. Parts and materials come from all over the world and are assembled here by MANY different companies. Even though it is fiction, I suggest you read “Airframe” by Michael Crichton as it is VERY informative on this topic.

Hey Rob C,

The point you and everyone in Alabam is missing is simply this, once you have built the fourth of fith plane, it over for Alabama. They will incoporate all the design changes into the production and you will be finished and the plane will be 99 per cent built in Europe. The only parts that will be doen in Alabama is the secure, secret stuff. They will have some reason and it will sound valid but it will happen. Boeing may finalize the first few tankers somewhere else but evnetually 99 per cent of the USAF tanker will be done in a production line. That is the most profitable way to do it.

If know AAV, Moller, Capstone > LinkedIn

*required

NOTE: Comments are limited to 2500 characters and spaces.

By commenting on this topic you agree to the terms and conditions of our User Agreement

AdChoices | Like us on , follow us on and join us on Google+
© 2014 Military Advantage
A Monster Company.