Analysis: EADS Participating In KC-X Contest

This is an article I wrote at BNET: Government about EADS decision to submit a proposal.

“The decade-long saga to replace the KC-X aerial tanker contract begins a new chapter. The European aerospace giant EADS (EADS: P) and Airbus, its subsidiary, announced that it will definitely submit a contract proposal to the Air Force. The program will replace the aging Cold War KC-135 tankers (pictured).

Boeing (BA) thought it had won the contract for at least 179 new aircraft earlier this year when Northrop Grumman (NOC) who had bid in partnership with EADS withdrew from the bidding. Then, earlier this month, the Pentagon agreed to extend the deadline, at EADS’ request, to allow it time to submit a new bid.”

Read the rest at BNET.

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Hopes High That This Try Is The End Of The KC-X Contest

Over at BNET: Government where I also publish I have a piece on how this third try will be the winning one for the Air Force and Defense Department to get a new aircraft to replace the aging KC-135 fleet. There still remain many challenges with the contest as Northrop may not bid and Boeing has expressed concerns with the fixed price portion of the contract.

It will be an interesting next few months as this is all worked out. Next deadline is May 10th when proposals are due.

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KC-X Fully Funded In 2011 Budget

President Obama sent his 2011 budget to Congress yesterday. It contains as part of its record defense spending $12 billion for the development and initial production of the new KC-X tanker. The Administration and the Air Force have a goal of awarding a contract this Summer and beginning the development of the new aircraft fairly fast.

This plan is fraught with difficulties based on the history of the program. The two main competitors, Boeing (BA) and the Northrop Grumman (NOC) team, have their own supporters in Congress and their own issues with the approach the Air Force is taking. It can be expected that the source selection will be difficult and the chances for a protest fairly high if both groups do submit bids.

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House Authorization Bill Includes KC-X Money

The House passed the 2010 Authorization Bill today. As part of the language the Air Force was given $440 million to spend on the KC-X new tanker program. This money will obviously cover the costs of the Project Office and the actual management of the competition. It will probably allow investment in some long lead materials for the new aircraft if the project goes well as the money will not expire until September, 2013.

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Air Force Operators Want New Tanker

The U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command (AMC) will be operating the new KC-X tanker as a supplement to their KC-10 and KC-135 aircraft. Needless to say they are very excited about finally getting a new aircraft to replace their Cold War vintage fleet. Lost in all the back-and-forth on the contract and competition is the need for this aircraft.

Both the Gulf War and the current “Overseas Contingency Operations” demonstrate a need for aerial tanking. This capability extends the range of the U.S.’s strike aircraft as well as maximizes their presence on the battlefield.

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