Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tiptoeing Into Oblivion:The KC767 and the Death of Long Beach

You remember how the US Air Force KC767 project foundered over sweetheart deals and the jobs for contracts fiasco that ended with the deal falling apart and some prison time being served? Either the KC767 is dead or it's alive depending on who's doing the talking and where the open pie holes are making the noise.

According to a wire service article today, Boeing is on target to stop production of the 767 when the order book is exhausted and if there are no new orders from the Pentagon, said James Bell, CFO of Boeing.

But, according to the Seattle papers, Boeing said it may produce KC767 tankers in Long Beach if it wins the competition for the Air Force's next generation refueling tanker.

Boeing has already done the development work for the flying gas station and convinced the Italians and the Japanese to buy a few. The Italian buy is most interesting for a European country-one might suppose that the Italian military wanted their tankers now rather than waiting on more Airbus vaporware.

Make no mistake, though. The contract for the tankers will not go to Airbus.

And, you can bet your last Confederate dollar that no Boeing tankers are going to be built in Long Beach, as long as the production workers up north have anything to say about it. They've got a production line that's going to be shut down if they don't get some orders. They've got a facility in Wichita that does the outfitting with the refueling gear. There's past history with the ill fated and evanescent Long Beach built 737.

The announcement, distilled to its essentials, looks like a ploy to get California legislators and some citizens to make some calls and put some pressure on the Air Force to buy Boeing tankers.

Hell, they're going to buy Boeing anyway, people. That is, if they buy anything at all and don't refurbish the KC135s yet again.

Does anyone else think that this looks like Boeing treating southern California and the remaining Dougloids like a banana republic to Boeing's United Fruit?


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