EADS & Northrop Grumman Offer USAF an Airbus Tanker Option
DID has reported on EADS determination to crack the US market before, including its recent setup of an Airbus center of excellence in Mobile, AL, its bid for the $2+ billion US Army Light Utility Helicopter competition, and its interest in offering the USA an Airbus A330 MRTT air-air refueling system in the wake of the Boeing KC-767’s contract cancellation and procurement scandal. As DID has reported, Britain recently opted for the A330 as its future tanker aircraft via an innovative public-private partnership deal. Australia will also fly the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) as its primary air-air tanker.
EADS’ earlier discussions with U.S. manufacturer Northrop Grumman had broken down amidst an atmosphere of strained US-European ties, protectionism on both sides, and anti-Airbus sentiment in Congress. They’ve finally borne fruit, however, as both Northrop Grumman and EADS have announced their joint collaboration on the KC-30, an Airbus 330 MRTT derivative that will have over 50% American manufactured content. There is as yet no word on whether a C-17 based tanker might also be part of the upcoming competition.