The US Air Force is spending $35 billion with Boeing to replace 179 of the service’s 400 KC-135 tankers which undertake in-air refuelling. Boeing will design, develop and manufacture 18 combat-ready tankers for delivery in 2017.
Based on the proven Boeing 767 commercial airplane, the KC-46A Tanker is a widebody, multi-mission aircraft which can transport fuel, cargo, passengers and patients.
It features Boeing 787 Dreamliner electronic displays and KC-10 boom with an expanded refueling envelope, increased fuel offload rate and fly-by-wire control system.
The contract is a major award for the manufacturer, who bid against EADS, for a contract that will create thousands of jobs and secure the future of hundreds of supplier businesses.
EADS North America Chairman Ralph D. Crosby, Jr. said:
“This is certainly a disappointing turn of events, and we look forward to discussing with the Air Force how it arrived at this conclusion. For seven years our goal has been to provide the greatest capability to our men and women in uniform, and to create American jobs by building the KC-45 here in the U.S. We remain committed to those objectives.
“With a program of such complexity, our review of today’s decision will take some time. There are more than 48,000 Americans who are eager to build the KC-45 here in the U.S., and we owe it to them to conduct a thorough analysis.”
If selected, EADS North America had committed to build the KC-45 at a new production facility in Mobile, Alabama. Chicago-based Boeing beat European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. partly because of a price difference in the bids.