March 01, 2008

Big News in Alabama

The Air Force announced that Northrop Grumman and EADS won the KC-45 tanker contract.

First I had no involvement in this contract and I am not speaking. 

Thankfully the Air Force did not make the mistake of picking an old airplane.

This was the mistake when the 707 was chosen as the platform for the E-3 and the E-8. Boeing acknowledges commercial demand for 767's is almost zero, freighters being the exception. The 757 line was shut down awhile ago. Whereas Airbus delivered 68 A330's aircraft last year.

That was not the case when the KC-135 was chosen by Gen. Curtis Lemay to refuel his bombers in SAC. 

At that time Boeing's Dash-80 was state of the art technology. Although the Douglas DC-8 was close behind. My question is why Boeing did not offer newer technology 787's or 777's? Maybe the did?

A lot of innovative people exist at Boeing. They have shown this innovation in the 787. The 787 has its startup problems and the schedule was unrealistic, but in the end it should be successful. 

So it's time for Boeing to take the long term view and prepare for the next decade's tanker competition. They could build an innovative airplane and  sale it to others so when that competition comes they have a better product with all the problems rung out. Prepare for the situation where the Airbus/Northrop team could fail.  

KC-135's are not the only tankers in the Air Force.  Boeing could go after another part of the market. Boeing should have the Phantom Works build a next generation cargo/tanker aircraft like the Dash 80 that can perform the roles of the KC-130 and MC-130 aircraft. Both of which are being worn out in the war. This aircraft could be a platform that replaces a lot of special mission aircraft.  

Maybe they could build a special mission platform for use by the Navy and replace the E-2, S-3, C-2, KA-6 on the carrier. 

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