Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tanker Contest Finally Decided!


Photo courtesy of Boeing.

On Thursday the United States Air Force announced that it has selected Boeing to build the new Next Gen Tanker. Boeing has announced that it will be known as the KC-46A air Refueling Jet.

Boeing will produce 179 tankers to replace the quickly aging 1950's KC-135. Some of the stipulations are that Boeing must have 17 of the airplanes combat ready by 2017. It is expected that the first flight will be in 2015 for the Next Gen Tanker. The cost of the program is expected to be around 35 Billion.

One other company attempted to bid for the contract as well. EADS which was bringing the A330 aerial refueler to the table. This was the third attempt for this contract after it was originally awarded to EADS who was teamed with Northrop Grumman back in 2008, but Boeing then decided to protest that decision and after review it was found that the board made mistakes in judging the contest. The other time was in 2002 when Boeing was the only competitor for the contract. But after an investigation is was proven that there were some major mistakes made in that attempt.

The airplanes final assembly will take place in Everett, WA where flight testing will then be conducted. After initial tests the airplanes will be flown to Wichita, KS where the more interior modifications will take place.