In January 2007, the big question was whether there would be a competition for the USA’s KC-X aerial tanker RFP, which will cover 175 production aircraft and 4 test platforms. The cost for this first phase alone is likely to reach $35+ billion, but the USAF believes that adding new plane types to America’s 40-50 year old aerial tanker fleet is its #1 priority, lest unpredictable age or fatigue issues like the ones its F-15A-D fleet is experiencing ground its aerial tankers – and with them, a substantial slice of the USA’s total airpower.
Boeing’s KC-767 Advanced Tanker was matched up against Airbus’ larger A330 MRTT/KC-30 for this competition. Each has a consortium, and each had advantages. After all the studies, the lobbying, and the proposal refinements, however, the USAF has picked a winner on Feb 29/08.
The A330 MRTT/ KC-30B from Northrop Grumman and EADS Airbus will now become the USAF’s next aerial tanker – if the USAF can make its decision stick…
Back in 2006, when it was time for partner nations to sign on to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s production definition phase, the Dutch came aboard relatively early. That appears to be true again. A Dutch MvD leap year release indicates that they will participate in the multinational Initial Operational Test & Evaluation (IOT&E) Phase of the JSF program, rather than conducting this phase on their own. IOT&E will be used to validate the F-35A’s capabilities, while testing and refining both operational tactics & employment concepts, and ensuring smooth integration of the aircraft into the Dutch Air Force in time for the scheduled Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2016.
The first test aircraft is scheduled for a decision before May 31/08, with down-payment of 10% of the aircraft’s costs for long-lead items. A Cabinet decision will follow in 2009 re: both test aircraft, with a second aircraft arriving that year if the decision is positive. Otherwise, the long-lead items et. al. will be sold to other operators.
The decisions seem straightforward enough, but they have become very contentious.
MarineLog reports that the Manitowoc Marine Group has been awarded an additional $35 million delivery order for 18 RB-M vessels by the U.S. Coast Guard. The new vessels are part of a $600 million Coast Guard contract for up to 250 Response Boat-Medium (RB-M) vessels, and Manitowoc is the prime contractor and program manager for this multi-year project. Thus far 30 boats are under contract, including this order. Manitowoc will share the construction of these 18 boats equally with its RB-M team partner, Kvichak Marine Industries of Seattle, WA. Delivery will begin in Q3 2009.