Air Force, News 767-based tanker, Boeing, Boeing 707, E-3, E-3 Sentry, E-8, E-8 Joint STARS, Jim Albaugh, kc-135, KC-135 Stratotanker, KC-X contest, Norm Dicks, Rick Larsen, Stratotanker, tanker bid 1 Comment
Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and Chief Executive Jim Albaugh is confident that his company’s recent victory in the KC-X contest will help to sell 767s to the U.S. military as specialized aircraft to replace the E-3 and E-8.
In a celebration of the company‘s tanker contract, Albaugh said “We’re not done. We’re going to build 179 of these, and then we’ll build another 179 for the U.S. Air Force. The celebration was also attended by U.S. Reps. Norm Dicks and Rick Larsen, both D-Wash.
Just as the new tankers will replace Boeing 707-based KC-135 Stratotankers, there are other 707-based military aircraft still in operation, such as the E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) and E-8 Joint STARS, Albaugh added. “They all need to be re-platformed and I think this is a great airplane to do it on.”
During the celebration, Dicks congratulated Boeing for its “courageous bid.”
But Friday was mostly a celebration of Dicks’ decade of work promoting Boeing for the tanker contract.
“Every time that we had something that had to get done Norm was there,” Albaugh said, noting that Dicks pushed Boeing to protest the Air Force’s 2008 choice of the then competing offering from a Northrop Grumman-EADS team and made sure that the Government Accountability Office “did their work” in reviewing that award and finding flaws that led Defense Secretary Robert Gates to declare a new competition.
“About three weeks later, the Air Force came out with a new set of requirements, and it was a set of requirements written around a big airplane,” Albaugh said. “Norm cried foul and the Air Force withdrew that set of requirements.”
Northrop sat out the new competition because it saw the final requirements as favoring Boeing’s smaller tanker, which generally costs less, requires fewer modifications to hangars and runways and, most notably, burns less fuel.
The 767-based tanker will use $11 billion to $36 billion less fuel over those 40 years, Dicks said.
“How many times are we going to celebrate this,” Larsen asked Friday. “Forever.”