Will EADS Protest?

Now that the U.S. Air Force and Defense Department have awarded the KC-X new aerial tanker contract to Boeing (BA) for their KC-46A aircraft the major question is whether the losing EADS NA (EADS:P) bid will protest? In 2008 when the Air Force selected Northrop Grumman (NOC) and EADS Boeing did protest and the choice was overturned leading to this current iteration of the contest. Considering this is the only fixed wing aviation program in the near future or at least until the Next Generation Bomber program emerges it may be hard for EADS not to protest on the chance that they might win or at least there would be another competition.

In their public statement the company is non-committal about the chances of filing a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO). They say “EADS North America officials today expressed disappointment and concern over the announcement by the U.S. Air Force that it had selected a high-risk, concept aircraft over the proven, more capable KC-45 for the nation’s next aerial refueling tanker.” but they also say ““Though we had hoped for a different outcome, it’s important to remember that this is one business opportunity among many for EADS in the United States,”. So read into that what you may.

At a minimum the filing of an unsuccessful protest would delay the initiation of the contract for about 100 days making the delivery of any new tankers to the Air Force even later then they will be after an almost ten year process to build a new one.

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Military Leaders Press Obama to Act On Defense Contract — Press Release

Military Leaders Press Obama to Act On Defense Contract

Further Delays Put Our War fighters in Jeopardy

WASHINGTON, April 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Twelve members of the National Defense Trust (NDT) today sent a letter to President Barack Obama expressing concern over the ongoing delays and political maneuvering preventing the Air Force from awarding the contract to build the next generation of aerial refueling tankers. The letter was signed by retired military officers, leaders of think tanks focusing on national defense, and a former US Senator. A copy of the letter was sent to every Member of Congress.

The current fleet of refueling tankers is five decades old and have been in service since the Korean War. Efforts to build new planes that support military aircraft has been ongoing for nearly a decade and the contracts have been canceled due to controversy and scandal.

The latest Request for Proposal was released several months ago with one of the bidders, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), withdrawing from the competition. However, after pressure from EADS and the government of France, the Pentagon extended the deadline for two months.

The National Defense Trust’s members believe it is critical that the delays, particularly those that are politically motivated, cease, allowing the military to focus on procuring the planes needed for a strong national defense. As a result of the most recent delay in the process, NDT members have sent this letter to Commander in Chief Obama and Members of Congress. The letter reads in part:

Delays often beget delays. Our war fighters deserve new tankers delivered as quickly as possible, and we see no valid reason to postpone the tanker acquisition process any longer. We urge you to resist further efforts to stall the long-overdue process of procuring and building the next fleet of refueling tankers our men and women in uniform need and deserve.

The National Defense Trust is a coalition of Americans dedicated to a robust defense of the United States and our allies.

Source: National Defense Trust

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Still Some Support For Northrop

Congressman Howard McKeon (R-CA) put out a statement today supporting Northrop. He said that he was “disappointed that Northrop Grumman has decided not to submit a proposal to build the Air Force’s next generation aerial refueling tanker.” He would like Northrop to reconsider its position.

Northrop is currently headquartered in California and has several thousand employees there. It is planning on moving to the Washington DC area in the near future.

The decision leaves Boeing as the sole announced bidder.

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Press Release — Statement on US Refueling Tanker Program Announcement

Statement on US Refueling Tanker Program Announcement

WASHINGTON, March 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The European Commission notes yesterday’s decision by Northrop Grumman / EADS not to submit a bid to the US Department of Defense for the US Air Force’s aerial refueling tanker contract.

“It is highly regrettable that a major potential supplier would feel unable to bid for a contract of this type. Open procurement markets guarantee better competition and better value for money for the taxpayer,” stated EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.

In February 2008, Northrop Grumman / EADS was selected and awarded the contract to provide aerial refueling tankers for the US Air Force in a fair and transparent competition. This was a positive sign for free and open competition across the Atlantic. This also seemed to indicate that successful bids are possible when European industry teams up with US industry and they are allowed to compete fairly. This award was subsequently cancelled at the end of 2008.

In December 2009, Northrop Grumman / EADS expressed serious concerns to the Department of Defense and the US Air Force on the proposed acquisition criteria for the contract.

The European Commission would be extremely concerned if it were to emerge that the terms of tender were such as to inhibit open competition for the contract.

The US defense trade balance with the EU has traditionally been significantly in the US’ favor. In 2008 the US exported $5 billion and imported only $2.2 billion worth of defense material, in line with a historic ratio of double exports to imports.

The Commission will be following further developments in this case very closely.

Source: Delegation of the European Union to the United States

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Statement From Northrop Grumman on U.S. Air Force Aerial Refueling Tanker Program — Press Release

Statement From Northrop Grumman on U.S. Air Force Aerial Refueling Tanker Program

WASHINGTON, March 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — The following is a statement from Wes Bush, Chief Executive Officer and President of Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) , concerning the U.S. Air Force aerial refueling tanker program.

“After a comprehensive analysis of the final RFP, Northrop Grumman has determined that it will not submit a bid to the Department of Defense for the KC-X program. We reached this conclusion based on the structure of the source selection methodology defined in the RFP, which clearly favors Boeing’s smaller refueling tanker and does not provide adequate value recognition of the added capability of a larger tanker, precluding us from any competitive opportunity.

“Northrop Grumman fully respects the Department’s responsibility to determine the military requirements for the new tanker. In the previous competition, Northrop Grumman was selected by the Air Force as offering the most capable tanker for the warfighter at the best value for the taxpayer. However, the Northrop Grumman and EADS team is very disappointed that the revised source selection methodology now dramatically favors Boeing’s smaller refueling tanker. We agree that the fundamental military requirements for the new tanker have not changed since the last competition, but the Department’s new evaluation methodology now clearly favors the smaller tanker.

“We continue to believe that Northrop Grumman’s tanker represents the best value for the military and taxpayer – a belief supported by the selection of the A330 tanker design over the Boeing design in the last five consecutive tanker competitions around the globe. Regrettably, this means that the U.S. Air Force will be operating a less capable tanker than many of our Allies in this vital mission area.

“Our prior selection by the Air Force, our firm belief that we provide the best value offering, and the hard work and commitment of the many individuals and communities on our team over many years made this a difficult decision for our company. But we have a fiduciary responsibility to our shareholders to prudently invest our corporate resources, as do our more than 200 tanker team suppliers across the United States. Investing further resources to submit a bid would not be acting responsibly.

“We have decided that Northrop Grumman will not protest. While we feel we have substantial grounds to support a GAO or court ruling to overturn this revised source selection process, America’s service men and women have been forced to wait too long for new tankers. We feel a deep responsibility to their safety and to their ability to fulfill the missions our nation calls upon them to perform. Taking actions that would further delay the introduction of this urgent capability would also not be acting responsibly.

“We recognize that our decision likely creates a sole-source outcome for Boeing. We call on the Department to keep in mind the economic conclusions of the prior round of bidding as it takes actions to protect the taxpayer when defining the sole-source procurement contract. In the previous round, the Air Force, through a rigorous assessment of our proposal, determined that it would pay a unit flyaway cost of approximately $184 million per tanker for the first 68 tankers, including the non-recurring development costs. With the Department’s decision to procure a much smaller, less capable design, the taxpayer should certainly expect the bill to be much less.”

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.

Source: Northrop Grumman Corporation

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EADS Advanced Refueling Boom Transfers Fuel From Australian A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport to F-16 Fighter — Press Release

EADS Advanced Refueling Boom Transfers Fuel From Australian A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport to F-16 Fighter

ARLINGTON, VA — (Marketwire) — 10/22/09 — The EADS A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) — currently in production for four allied nations — marked another major performance milestone with the first in-flight refueling performed from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) A330 MRTT utilizing its integrated Aerial Refueling Boom System (ARBS).

The contacts and subsequent fuel transfers were made with two F-16 receiver aircraft and validated the advanced ARBS handling qualities, precision, and stability on the A330 MRTT, as well as the capabilities of its 3-D vision system. The flight lasted four hours and 30 minutes, with more than 3,300 pounds of fuel transferred during 13 contacts.

EADS’ fly-by-wire ARBS is one of the key technological discriminators for the A330 MRTT and Northrop Grumman’s KC-45 offering to the U.S. Air Force, providing the only digital, all-electric fly-by-wire refueling system available today.

The ARBS has already made more than 250 wet and dry contacts with a wide range of receiver aircraft, in a full range of operating conditions and throughout the flight envelope, while the boom was deployed on an EADS test-bed aircraft.

“This significant milestone demonstrates the maturity of the world’s most modern aerial refueling boom system as integrated on the only next-generation tanker aircraft in production today,” said Ralph D. Crosby, Jr., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of EADS North America. “The A330 MRTT is one important step closer to service introduction with a key allied military service, the Royal Australian Air Force.”

“The ARBS was just as smooth and easy to control during these contacts as it has been in all our prior work with it,” said Don Cash, boom operator for the A330 MRTT test flight. “The precision of the system makes the boom feel just like an extension of my arm.”

Cash is a retired U.S. Air Force boom operator with more than 20 years’ experience aboard the KC-135 and KC-10, and has been on the ARBS design team for five years. “I’ve had the needs of the warfighter in mind from the beginning, and we’ve arrived at a system that offers them a level of performance and reliability unmatched by any system available in the world today and for the foreseeable future.”

The RAAF’s A330 MRTT is similar in configuration to Northrop Grumman’s KC-45 Tanker offered for the U.S. Air Force to recapitalize its aging aerial refueling fleet. Both aircraft are equipped with the EADS ARBS, plus a pair of all-digital Cobham 905E refueling pods under the wings. This mix of boom and pod refueling technologies ensures the A330 MRTT and KC-45 can transfer fuel to all types of receiver aircraft during a single mission without reconfiguration. The KC-45 also offers a centerline hose-and-drogue fuselage refueling unit.

The boom’s maximum nominal fuel flow rate is 1,200 U.S. gallons per minute, while the pods can deliver up to 420 gallons of fuel per minute. Aerial refueling operations are controlled from a state-of-the-art Remote Aerial Refueling Operator console in the cockpit behind the pilots, incorporating the enhanced vision system with laser infrared lighting and high-definition digital stereoscopic viewing.

“I have situational awareness and a field of view that far exceed anything I ever had during my Air Force career,” Cash said, “with crystal-clear visuals night or day.”

EADS North America is a principal teammate on Northrop Grumman’s KC-45 Tanker program, and is responsible for delivering the aircraft platform, which will be produced at a new aerospace center of excellence to be built in Mobile, Ala.

Airbus Military, an EADS company, is responsible for the design and production of the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport for international customers, which today includes Australia, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Orders from those countries total 28 aircraft. The A330 MRTT has won all of the international competitions for new-generation aerial tankers since 2004.

The RAAF will receive its first of five A330 MRTTs in 2010, two of which have completed conversion and currently are in flight test. Upon delivery to the RAAF, they will be designated the KC-30A.

About EADS North America (www.eadsnorthamerica.com)

EADS North America is the North American operation of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services. As a leader in all sectors of defense and homeland security, EADS North America and its parent company, EADS, contribute over $11 billion to the U.S. economy annually and support more than 200,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers and services. Operating in 17 states, EADS North America offers a broad array of advanced solutions to its customers in the commercial, homeland security, aerospace and defense markets.

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Media Contact:

Guy Hicks
Vice President, Corporate Communications
EADS North America
Tel: 703 236 3346
E-mail: Email Contact

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The Tanker Trailer: Simulating Aerial Refueling

“Ever wonder how boom operators will refuel receiver aircraft in the future? Members of Congress, staffers and reporters caught a glimpse of that Sep. 22 in Boeing's Aerial Refueling Technology trailer parked near Capitol Hill.

For a detailed description of how it felt to sit at the demonstrator and transfer fuel to a B-2 bomber or C-17 airlifter, read McClatchy newspaper reporter Les Blumenthal's detailed description.

Carol Han from KIRO-TV in Seattle has a great article too, be sure to check out the video clips that accompany it, including this one of Senator Pat Murray taking a turn at the controls of our KC-7A7 boom refueling simulator.

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KC-7A7

Boeing invented boom refueling 60 years ago, and has since built and delivered more than 2,000 of the best aerial refueling tankers in the world, setting the global standard for tanker refueling and continuing to push the leading edge of refueling technology.

So when the United States put out the request for a new tanker, Boeing gathered all of its tanker know-how into one place: the new KC-7A7 tanker.

The KC-7A7 design represents the pinnacle of Boeing’s eight decades of tanker experience:

  • A state-of-the-art fly-by-wire refueling boom that reduces maintenance requirements and utilizes unique new safety features
  • Advanced avionics that improve situational awareness, reduce pilot workload and guarantee access to world-wide airspace, making it the most versatile tanker in history
  • Superior countermeasures designed to defeat enemy threats, which make it the most survivable tanker in history
  • Cargo and passenger space unprecedented in a fielded tanker makes the KC-7A7 a game-changer for mobility operations.

So what does the “A” stand for? The “A” signifies the superior capabilities Boeing offers on any one of multiple airframes built every day for its global customers.

Here at Boeing, we also like to say that the “A” stands for:

  • Advanced – our next tanker will have the most modern equipment and design features that our nation’s warfighters need today
  • Agility – a tanker that can operate around the world in any airspace, in harm's way, while refueling any receiver, anytime, anywhere
  • Ability – Boeing’s experience at building and modifying tankers – more than 2,000 of them
  • Available – Boeing is delivering 21st century tankers now and they are in operational service today
  • Awesome – Boeing’s new tanker will be incredibly capable, the culmination of decades of experience and innovation.

In fact, it’s all these things – that’s why we’re confident the KC-7A7 will soon be the next United States Tanker.

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