Defense Authorization Act Ensures Level Playing Field For The KC-X Tanker


  Bookmark and Share

Defense Authorization Act Ensures Level Playing Field For The KC-X Tanker

Shane Nolan

May 28, 2010  - With a recorded vote of 410-8, the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday adopted a bipartisan amendment offered by Reps. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Michael Turner (R-Ohio), and Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) to the fiscal year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act to ensure a level playing field for the KC-X tanker competition.

The amendment requires the Department of Defense to consider any unfair competitive advantage that European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EADS) and its subsidiary Airbus have gained from decades of illegal subsidies. The World Trade Organization recently ruled that Airbus received billions of dollars in illegal launch aid from European governments, including almost $5 billion used to develop the A330, EADS' tanker platform.


Boeing released the following statement on the amendment: "We fully support the efforts of all members of Congress who share our concern about the unfair competitive advantage that EADS/Airbus, a foreign company, gained from decades of illegal launch aid subsidies worth billions of dollars.

“We are encouraged by strong bipartisan support for a fair competition on a level playing field. The amendment requires the Department of Defense to take into consideration illegal European launch aid subsidies in bid evaluations for America's next tanker. It is entirely appropriate that these congressional leaders take such steps to prevent the U.S. defense industrial base from suffering the same fate as the commercial aircraft industry, where illegal subsidies have contributed to the loss of tens of thousands of U.S. aerospace jobs."

In 2006 the USAF released a request for proposal (RFP) for a new tanker program, KC-X, to be selected by 2007. Boeing had also announced it may enter an even higher capability tanker based on the Boeing 777, currently named the KC-777 Strategic Tanker. Airbus has partnered with Northrop Grumman to offer the Airbus A330 MRTT, the tanker version of the A330, which was being marketed to the USAF under the unofficial designation of KC-30.

In late January 2007 the USAF issued the KC-X Aerial Refueling Aircraft Request for Proposal. The RFP calls for 179 (4 system development and demonstration and 175 production) tankers, worth an estimated US$40 billion. However, Northrop and EADS expressed their displeasure at how the RFP was structured and have threatened to withdraw, leaving only Boeing to offer an aircraft.


On 12 February 2007, Boeing announced it is offering the KC-767 Advanced Tanker in the KC-X Tanker competition. Boeing stated for KC-X's requirements, the KC-767 was a better fit than the KC-777. On 11 April 2007, Boeing submitted its KC-767 tanker proposal to U.S. Air Force.

In September 2007, the USAF rejected having mixed fleet new tankers from both Boeing and Northrop Grumman as being unfeasible because of increased costs in buying limited numbers of two types annually. Boeing submitted the final version of its proposal on 3 January 2008.

On 29 February 2008, the DoD chose the Northrop Grumman/EADS KC-30, now officially designated the KC-45A, over the KC-767. Boeing submitted a protest to the United States Government Accountability Office on 11 March 2008 and began waging a fierce public relations campaign in support of their protest. On 18 June, following a series of admissions by the Air Force on the flaws in the bidding process, the GAO upheld Boeing's protest and recommended the contract be rebid.

On 9 July 2008, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that the Air Force would reopen bidding on the tanker contract. Secretary Gates put the contract for the KC-45 into an "expedited recompetition" with Defense Undersecretary John Young in charge of the selection process instead of the Air Force. A draft of the revised RFP was provided to the contractors on 6 August 2008 for comments. By mid-August the revised RFP was to be finalized. However, on 10 September 2008, the US Defense Department canceled the KC-X solicitation.

On 24 September 2009, the USAF began the first steps in the new round of bids, with a clearer set of criteria, including reducing the number of requirements from 800 to 373 in an attempt to simply the process and allow a more objective decision to be made. On 4 March 2010, Boeing announced it will bid the KC-767 tanker for the new KC-X round. In March 2010 Northrop Grumman withdrew from the bidding process. EADS announced on 21 April 2010 it will submit a tanker bid, but without Northrop Grumman as a U.S. partner.
Other News Stories



Home Aviation News Aviation Stories Of Interest FAA Exam Upcoming Events Links To Other Sites General Aviation Helicopters Medical Factors Facing Pilots
Maintenance and Aircraft Mechanics Hot Air Balloon Aviation Training Handbooks Read Online Aviation History Legal Issues In Aviation Sea Planes Editorials
 ©AvStop Online Magazine                                                                 Contact Us                                                  Return To News                                          Bookmark and Share


AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator