The U.S. Defense Department and Air Force announced that Boeing (BA) has been selected to provide the new KC-X aerial tanker. The design submitted by EADS NA (EADS:P) was not chosen.
The new KC-46A will be based on Boeing’s 767 airliner design.
The Secretary of the Air Force, Mr. Michael Donley, stated that the decision was based on “mission effectiveness in wartime and life cycle costs as embodied in fuel efficiency and military construction costs”. This might be a hint that the larger KC-30 aircraft from EADS might have required more investment in new and bigger facilities then the smaller 767 tanker.
The contract has been very political with states that stand to gain thousands of jobs from the program using their Senators and Representatives to push for the respective bidders.
EADS does have the right to protest the decision as Boeing did in 2008 when the contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman (NOC) and EADS. They will have to wait until their debrief by the Air Force before making any decision about that.
Even an unsuccessful protest may delay the start of the program for several weeks and the Air Force plans on receiving the first 18 aircraft in 2017. The new KC-46A will replace Cold War era KC-135R tankers some of which have been flying for fifty years.
Cross posted at Defense Procurement News.