MILAVIA > Aviation News Last updated: 7 April 2008
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29 Feb 2008

Northrop-EADS Win KC-X Tanker Contract

On Friday, February 29, Northrop Grumman and partner EADS have been awarded a contract to supply 179 aerial refueling tankers to the U.S. Air Force, beating the rival bid by Boeing.

The contract awarded today covers $1.5 Billion contract for the System Demonstrator & Development (SDD) phase consisting of four test aircraft and $10.6 Billion for the first five production lots, producing 64 aircraft. Further contracts will be awarded for lots six to thirteen. Total value is estimated to be $35 Billion.

The KC-X source selection used a "best value" determination to select a winner based on five factors: Mission Capability, Proposal Risk, Past Performance, Cost/Price, and an Integrated Fleet Air Refueling Assessment (performance in a simulated war scenario). Unit cost price was considered to be the least important in the evaluation.

The tanker based on the Airbus A330 airliner will be designated KC-45A by the U.S. Air Force. General Arthur J. Lichte said that the KC-45A provides more of everything. It can offload more fuel, carry more passengers, more cargo, more medical patients and offers better performance and more flexibility. The KC-45A is equipped with both boom and drogue systems and can also carry two wing pods to refuel probe-equipped aircraft. Unlike the previous generation of tankers, the KC-45A will also be equipped with defensive systems.

KC-X is the first iteration of a three-phased approach to replace the Air Force's fleet of 530 KC-135E/Rs and 59 KC-10s. The KC-X contract will enable the Air Force to start retiring the oldest KC-135s as soon as the first new KC-45s arrive. The KC-135E variants are the oldest tankers in the fleet and have been suffering from ageing problems and have been placed under a set of restrictions. The second iteration, dubbed KC-Y, will replace the remainder of the KC-135 fleet. The KC-Z tranche to replace the Air Force's larger KC-10 tankers is not expected until at least 2020.
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2018

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