Just wanted to keep folks following UnitedStatesTanker.com (via the web site, Twitter, and email) updated on our latest KC-X activity.

John Lockard (Chief Operating Officer, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems) and Pat Shanahan (Vice President/General Manager, Airplane Programs - Boeing Commercial Airplanes) led our team today as we met with members of the U.S. Air Force's KC-X Tanker program office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio.

This was our first opportunity to meet face-to-face with our customer since last Friday's release of the KC-X Tanker Draft Request for Proposal (DRFP) and we appreciated both their time and emphasis on transparency.

We feel that one of our key discriminators in this new competition will be a 'one-company' approach. The Air Force will only have to turn to a single point of contact if we are fortunate enough to win this contract and replace America's critical refueling fleet.

Speaking of our approach, here's an update on how we're handling the Draft RFP:

Our team has been dissecting this important document for a week now. We have chosen to ask our questions and highlight areas of interest directly to the Air Force first before discussing them publicly.

As for timing, we should see a Final RFP in late November followed by proposals due in January 2010, and finally a contract award some time next summer.

Regardless of the timing, you can count on one thing. Boeing plans on offering a combat-ready tanker with max capability at lowest cost.

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No Competitive Disadvantage

Take a look at this Reuters story ...

Looks like the Department of Defense and U.S. Air Force have already pushed back on this. Our position is that the U.S. Air Force clearly and definitively dealt with this issue and we look forward to our first meeting with the Air Force in this competition.

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Too Early For a Decision

While we appreciate the coverage of our KC-7A7 'family of tankers' in this DoD Buzz posting, it is important we correct the record. Boeing has not made any decision about which tanker to offer or whether to offer both KC-7A7 tankers. With the U.S. Air Force only posting the KC-X Draft RFP on FedBizOpps.gov last Friday (Sept. 25), it is way too early to make that decision. Our team is taking a very thorough, one-company approach to reviewing this important document and we clearly understand that the Air Force customer plans on selecting one airplane as a winner in this competition. One of the great benefits of having a range of options to offer in this competition is being able to ultimately present the Air Force with one proposal -- or two -- that best meet their requirements while providing the best value to American taxpayers.

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Flexibility is the Key

One of the first things you're taught when entering the U.S. Air Force is the phrase "flexibility is the key to airpower." Whether you're graduating from Basic Military Training, the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), or from the U.S. Air Force Academy, all Airmen have that drilled into their heads.

Now that the U.S. Air Force has begun their efforts to replace the KC-135 Stratotanker fleet through the KC-X competition, it's a good time to reflect on how that tanker fleet provides great flexibility to our nation.

While you may not see tankers on network and cable news, the men and women who fly and maintain these venerable airplanes play a critical role. Without the tanker fleet, the United States would be unable to project both reach and power globally. Not only do they refuel America's Air Force, they also support our allies as we work together around the world.

The Boeing KC-7A7 'family of tankers' also provides flexibility that can benefit both the warfighter and taxpayer. Whether it's the agile 767-based tanker or the large 777-based tanker, we will deliver a combat-ready tanker with max capability at the lowest cost.

If you want more detail on the KC-7A7 tanker, take a look at this brochure.

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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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Handing the Air Force the Stick

This year’s AFA Convention was one of the most action-packed in recent memory.  And one of the biggest news-making events was Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ announcement that he’s putting the Air Force in charge of this year’s tanker competition. 

Boeing welcomes the Air Force’s leadership in the effort to replace America’s KC-135 refueling fleet, and anxiously awaits the release of the Request for Proposal.  Our top priority will be to work with the Air Force to ensure that we understand the service’s requirements and their relative priority. 

It’s particularly important that the requirements for the new competition be crystal clear.  Boeing is the only competitor offering the Air Force a choice between different refueling options, each of which delivers more capability at lower cost.   The KC-767 is a wide-body tanker with a narrow footprint that has more agility and proven technological capability than any competitor.  The KC-777 tanker can also double as a formidable cargo aircraft, providing more capacity at a similar size to Airbus’ A330-based plane.  

As I told so many people at AFA, we’re excited to work hand-in-hand with the Air Force to understand the service’s needs, and look forward to building America’s next tanker – one that meets all the warfighters’ needs at the lowest cost to the taxpayer. 

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Tanker Buzz at the AFA Convention

We’re excited to be at the Air Force Association’s annual convention today (View our presentation), participating in the vibrant community that is unique to the Air Force. One of the most talked about topics here at the convention is the Air Force’s upcoming competition to build a new fleet of tanker refueling aircraft – a competition that Boeing is proud to take part in.

Soon, the Pentagon will release its draft request for proposals for new tankers. We’re looking forward to working with the Air Force to understand these requirements so we can offer the most capable tanker to the warfighter at the best value for the taxpayer.

Boeing’s decades-long experience in building 2,000 tankers and in manufacturing derivative aircraft to meet specific Air Force missions gives us an edge over the competition in putting together the most technologically advanced proposal that will be tailored to meet the Air Force’s specific needs.

Although Boeing has many options to consider, there are three fundamental reasons why we can offer the most capable and best value tanker to the Air Force:

Boeing’s Tanker Will Be Mission Ready. Boeing is the only company whose boom-equipped tanker aircraft are flying in combat missions today. And independent reports show that its new advanced tanker designs will be the most survivable and dependable tanker aircraft in history. Boeing’s powerful blend of innovation and experience will deliver the most capable tanker to the warfighter, built to perform on command in the crucible of combat.

Boeing’s Tanker Will Be American-Designed. America’s aerospace industry leads the world in cutting-edge technology and the highest-quality manufacturing. As a result, Boeing will be able to offer 5th generation boom technology with fly-by-wire design, a state-of-the-art flight deck and a proven airframe that will last the next 50 years and beyond.

Boeing’s Tanker Will Offer Maximum Capability At Less Cost. Whether the Air Force is looking for an expeditionary tanker as a replacement for the KC-135 or a tanker with increased cargo and fuel capacities, Boeing has an outstanding portfolio of commercial aircraft that will make great air refueling tankers. Boeing is uniquely positioned today to manufacture the most technologically advanced and capable aircraft using economies of scale that will lower cost and risk for taxpayers.

Tanker aircraft and the brave crews that fly them are known as the workhorses of the Air Force – the aircraft that enable fighters, bombers, and cargo aircraft to fly farther and faster, to complete their missions and return home safely.

Boeing looks forward to developing what we believe will be the most capable and best value tanker for the Air Force and we’re glad to be sharing our passion for tankers with the Air Force community here at AFA.

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The United States Tanker

The United States Air Force is holding a competition to pick the new United States Tanker, a decision that will have a long-term effect on America’s national security and ability to project power around the world. When it comes to tankers, our nation’s warfighters deserve the best capabilities and taxpayers deserve the best value.

Boeing is looking forward to the competition. We believe that our rich legacy of tanker experience – which includes inventing and advancing boom refueling technology by delivering more than 2,000 tankers over six decades – gives us the edge in providing the U.S. Air Force with the most capable tanker for the best value.

We’ve created UnitedStatesTanker.com in order to speak directly to you about our plans, as well as provide updates on news as it happens. We hope to foster a transparent and lively dialogue about our next tanker that will educate everyone involved.

The new United States Tanker will make America’s military more capable and more efficient. UnitedStatesTanker.com is dedicated to that future. Welcome.

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Boeing Knows How

If you’re a tanker pilot cruising 30,000 feet above the ground while transferring fuel to a hundred-million-dollar fighter jet bound for a critical air superiority mission, you want to have absolute confidence in your plane.

You need confidence that your aircraft will fly with precision, your refueling boom will lock onto the receiving aircraft like it’s on a tractor beam, and the fuel will flow quickly and smoothly.

Boeing is the only aircraft maker in the world that can give U.S. airmen that confidence. Why? Because for nearly six decades, Boeing has produced tanker aircraft that are the gold standard for in-flight refueling, using a patented boom refueling system and superior airframes.

The Air Force first turned to Boeing in the 1940s to retrofit B-29 bombers as refueling aircraft. It was then that Boeing developed the first patented "flying boom" system, which transferred fuel much faster than "hose and drogue" systems that were in use. A few years later, the Air Force purchased more than 811 of Boeing’s KC-97 Stratotankers – the first specialized tanker aircraft – which gave the U.S. air superiority on a truly global scale.

Boeing has always made state-of-the-art technology and quality manufacturing its top priorities.

Boeing continues to update the original KC-135 tankers that the Pentagon purchased in the 1950s and 1960s, and despite their age, those tankers are still the workhorses of the Air Force refueling fleet. Many other countries, including France, Singapore and Turkey, fly the KC-135 tankers or similar variants.

Chalk it up to a forward-thinking design and a uniquely experienced work force: Boeing builds tankers on the cutting edge of technology that are also built to last.

Boeing’s KC-7A7 designs continue that legacy of refueling expertise and excellence. Benefiting from fifth-generation flying boom technology, the KC-7A7 transfers fuel more safely and more reliably than any other aircraft in the world. And advanced avionics and proven airframes make them the most survivable and nimble widebody aircraft ever.

The U.S. Air Force needs the world’s best tanker aircraft to maintain its global reach for the next half century. It needs the United States’ next tanker: the KC-7A7.

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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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