Boeing Wins CNS-ATM Upgrade Contract for USAF’s KC-10 Tankers
International CNS/ATM standards are currently in the beginning stages of a profound change. The FAA has mandated changes by 2015 that will tighten requirements for flying in civil airspace without a special permit, and the ICAO is working to a similar timeframe. Since the ability to fly in civil airspace significantly affects mission routes and fuel consumption, the US military is pushing to make its critical KC-135 and KC-10 tanker fleets fully compliant.
Boeing has been doing similar CNS/ATM work for the Dutch RNLAF’s 3 aircraft KDC-10 fleet, but lost its hold on the multi-billion dollar KC-10 long-term maintenance contract in 2009, putting its status for the KC-10 CNS/ATM project in question. Boeing won that contract, though, and will work with Rockwell Collins and ARINC…
Contracts & Key Events
With its 2010 win, the USAF’s KC-10 CNS/ATM contract will be managed at Boeing’s Long Beach, CA, facility, which also produces C-17 heavy transports. The first KC-10 will be modified and flight-tested in 2012 at the company’s San Antonio, TX facility, and Boeing will complete and deliver the final modified KC-10 in 2015.
July 5/11: Rockwell Collins Government Systems in Cedar Rapids, IA receives an estimated $55.2 million firm-fixed-price contract for KC-10 communication navigation surveillance air traffic management systems. In a subsequent release, the firm puts the potential maximum value at “more than $160 million over the life of the program.”
The DoD announcement says that: “This effort includes a single integrator for the engineering, manufacturing, development, production and installation,” but Rockwell Collins officials confirm that installation will actually be ARINC‘s primary responsibility. This contract indicates that the cockpit avionics themselves will be provided as “Government Furnished Equipment,” a fairly common practice. The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center/GKSKA at Tinker Air Force Base, OK (FA8106-11-C-0006). See also Rockwell Collins.
June 23/10: Boeing announced a 5-year, $216 million contract to upgrade the USAF’s 59 heavy KC-10 aerial tanker/ transports with new cockpit avionics. The new systems would comply with forecast 2015 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) CNS/ATM (communication, navigation, surveillance and air traffic management) standards.
More changes are coming soon to global aviation control. In early June 2010, Boeing received a 10-year, $1.7 billion contract from the FAA, as part a $4.4 billion contract set to design and implement a next-generation air traffic system. The new NexGen SE2020 system will replace the current approximate position with precise, GPS-aided position fixes, allowing planes to fly much more direct routes with less separation. Europe has a similar SESAR effort underway. These efforts will include new aircraft requirements in order to take full advantage, but Boeing representatives contacted by DID said that NexGen/SESAR compliance was not part of the KC-10s’ cockpit upgrade program.