Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tanker Competition Shelved-Days Of Our Lives Upstaged

The long running saga of the future air tanker competition and who's going to sell the airplanes to the guv'mint just got a lot more interesting. 

Let's review. 

It's been evident for a long time that the G was in need of a new flying gas station, as the current fleet of KC135s are mighty long in the tooth. 

The KC135 is a modified Boeing 707, which was itself a replacement for the previous iteration, the KC97.The last KC135 was built in the middle sixties, and although they are carefull maintained and upgraded they are about through with their useful lives.

The Air Force agreed to lease tankers from Boeing that were to be based on the B767, but that deal came unglued because some people at Boeing ended up going to prison over it.

A new competition was started and ultimately the program was awarded to Northrop Grumman, fielding an entry based on a modified Airbus A330, which, it is alleged, would be "assembled" in Alabama. We here at the Dougloid Papers have always maintained that this "assembly" would consist of applying decals and checking the oil, but we're cynics. It's a village that Potemkin himself would have approved of.

Boeing seemed to have lost with its KC767, but after an appeal, the DOD reversed itself and reopened the competition. Boeing asked for more time to work up a new even better presentation, and threatened to abandon the project entirely if they didn't get their way.  

However, considered against the potential $100 billion contract value, that seems a little contrived.

And that brings us to today, in which it was announced by the DOD that the competition would be shelved and a new, clean sheet of paper will be unveiled when the next administration takes office.

Of course, the DOD did buy the KC10, and had McDonnell Douglas survived it's quite possible that the new procurement would be for a raft of KC11s and I'd still have a job and not be writing this when I should be working.

Here's my pick, based on nothing more than a scientific wild assed guess.

KC777, anyone? It's been talked about before.


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