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KC-X: And the Winner Is, Boeing!

by John Reed on February 24, 2011

There you have it, folks. Boeing just pulled off the upset victory and defeated EADS to win a KC-X contract that will ultimately be worth roughly $35 billion to build 179 aerial tankers to replace the Air Force’s oldest KC-135s.

In this third round of the decade-long KC-X saga, the Chicago-based company fended off European defense giant EADS’ aggressive bid to become a major player in the U.S. defense market.

Many thought EADS would win, given the fact that it’s KC-45 offering is based off a newer, bigger airplane (the Airbus A330) than Boeing’s NewGen Tanker which is based on the 30-year old 767 design.

However, Boeing was the “clear winner,” according to a Congressional source cited by sister site, DoDBuzz.

EADS won the last go-round of KC-X in 2008 but that award soon fizzled as Boeing successfully protested the contract, saying the Air Force wasn’t clear about its requirements in the RfP for the tankers. Oh, and don’t forget the first attempt to replace the tankers with leased 767s back in 2002 and 2003. That went really well.

Hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, this will be the end of the ordeal and the Air Force can start replacing the 50-plus year old KC-135s.

Still, the service is prepared for another protest. From DoDBuzz:

“Let me say right off we have assumed there might be a protest,” Air Force Secretary Mike Donley said last week at the Air Force Association conference in Orlando. “We have taken a lot of care and extra time in our source selection process.” Donley, said “we certainly hope the offerors will not decide to protest but we recognize it is their right to do so.”

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