KC-X: And the Winner Is, Boeing!

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.”

22 Comments on "KC-X: And the Winner Is, Boeing!"

  1. I'm still upset that Boeing didn't put forth the KC-777 for this competition. I would have loved to see it instead of the geriatric and small-bodied 767.

  2. Cunninglinguine | February 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Reply

    Typical defense acquisition bullshit. Pay more for the less-capable design.

    Crooked politicians win again.

  3. The Wall Street Journal reported deliveries of 18 aircraft by 2017. Which makes me ask WTF ?. Why is it going to take another 6 years to get this aircraft operational ?. Is it not an almost identical aircraft delivered to Italy and Japan ?. Did the USAF go and gold plate this thing ?. Oiy !.


  4. Well, at least the dough and the jobs are staying in the US.

  5. George Gauthier | February 24, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Reply

    After the bribery scandal involving Boeing and the first round of this competition, I expected the company to be barred from bidding. Wonder why not.

  6. The EADS tankers' engines and other equip were to have come from USA companies. I wonder, when it's all completed, just what PERCENTAGE of non-USA parts will comprise the final new USAF tankers ? Wanna bet, it's going to be quite high ? No one can be surprized since candidate Obama campaigned at Boeing sites saying he supported keeping this giant contract at Boeing, vice the Northrop Grumman tanker entry that won exactly 3 years ago. Oh well…

  7. expect defense orders from europe to dry up real soon!!! if the US thinks this won't have repercusions they are seriously mistaken. 15-20 years ago we wouldn't have had any choice but to keep buying your crap ,but today we have a competitive and
    thriving defense industri of our own, so now we can buy what we need " at home".

  8. At least they finally made a choice- the obvious one- but still a choice.

  9. Ok…lets get this straight folks….

    This was 'Buy American' straight up….
    This was a political decision…
    Not a Pentagon one…

    What was said up above says it….
    Less capable design….
    Gold plated……

    The plane they will get (who knows when…At what crazy final price?) Isn't even flying….
    Didn't read something about them putting a new wing the 767 body?

    Yep….mike…F-35 sales should dry up….
    Buy American we don't want your a/c though…
    Maybe they send the Army and Coast Guard EADs birds back and wait 20 years for an American company to produce an over cost, less capable helo….

    This sucks…
    But birds where supposed to be made in the USA folks…..

    This ain't a victory…
    The taxpayers just took it on the chin….

  10. Remember this number $35 Billion…Cause that's the last time you're gonna see those planes at that number….The final price tag ain't gonna be nowhere near that number…

  11. I wonder if the 2009 Air France A330-200 fatal crash over the Atlantic, that was never solved, make the US nervous? Or could it be payback for the bruising the US got for EADS WTO win?

    Of course the Boeing was always going to win anyway regardless of the selection process. Lobbyists and nationalism prevent fair competition.

  12. Will this be the final straw that will drive Europe to lift the arms embargo on China?

  13. They picked an older airframe so that they could screw America over in another ten years with cries of "it's an old airframe, buy a new one!"

    Would it be so hard to get new airframes with new fighters so that we aren't stuck in the same hole of having totally ancient tankers refuelling brand new fighters in a decade or so?!

  14. DoD is back to picking losers. Bad defense policy, bad industrial policy and quite simply embarrassing.

  15. Correction from me….
    Aviation Weeks says Boeing went back to the 767-200 and scraped the different puzzle parts first offer……
    So the plane will probabaly be a bit like the ones they are giving to the Italians….

    Blights right…Still 'Old School'….
    But I'm glad everyone gets the 'political side' of things here….

  16. and Japanese…..

  17. Ya-hoo!!! Congrats to Boeing. I'd rather see the US buying AMERICAN anyday – at least the profits remain mostly with and AMERICAN company.

    To all others: Buy AMERICAN-made product – only buy Chinese as the LAST possible resort otherwise, you're supporting a Chinese military buildup, and unethical Chinese business practices.

  18. I don't get the "Now the Euros will dump the F35" idea in this thread.

    F35 was always a joint project- the tanker was almost certainly going to be Boeing- the one decision notwithstanding.

    The Euros will probably scale back the F35 for the same reason we will- we're broke.

  19. Well , they wrote the spec for a cheap and cheerful tanker – and that's exactly what they're going to get. As Comrade Stalin used to say "Quantity has a Quality all of its own". For the few times the USAF needs a proper tanker they can probably loan one from the UK or Australia.

    There'll be no problem as long as they buy enough KC46s and are prepared to re-engine them in 15 years. Overall, its probably the best decision.

  20. Ha, ha, ha….
    I like the loan comment…..

    It's like when then have a REAL long reach job they's quietly task an Aussie or Brit KC for the job……

  21. "European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. is upset that Boeing won the contract for the next-generation Air Force refueling tanker, all 170 of them. EADS should look in the mirror. Remember when it turned down a well-developed and proven American built turbo-prop engine and propeller system because it insisted that it had to have an all-European developed system for its M-400 military transport? The result was a delay of about four years in getting the transport into the air. Eat your heart out, EADS."

    From another site's comments
    Letters: Europe Casts Stones on Tanker Issue
    The Wall Street Journal 03/03/2011

  22. from Aviation Week…..
    However, the tanker decision raises a larger question about perceived access by European manufacturers to the U.S. defense market. In recent years, an Italian design won the Marine One helicopter program, only to be scrapped owing largely to government squabbles over requirements. And Alenia’s grip on a once-robust C-27J buy loosened when the Air Force took over the program and truncated it, dashing the company’s plans to build a stateside final assembly facility.

    Now, with the latest KC-X selection, EADS has lost to Boeing, quashing its hopes for a U.S. final assembly plant in the near term. Though these decisions were made individually on their merits by the Pentagon, some analysts wonder whether European contractors will begin to sour on the notion of doing business with a fickle Defense Department.

    Nuff Said…..

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