18 April 2007

KC-X when will you come, and who will you be?

Our air refueling tanker fleet is older than dirt. The KC-135s have been passing gas for 50 years (first flight August 1956, first delivered June 1957)
They still do a great job and I am hard pressed to think of another plane that can do as good of a job. Sure there is the KC-10 but that has been sort of a flop. The KC-10A (DC-10)and now with that aircraft gone from the airlines support for the aircraft is a huge issue...not to mention this. Some aircraft have a very hard time refueling under the large KC-10. The C-130s that have the capability to be on the receiving end of the KC-10 have to dive down and more times then not, it takes three or more connections to fuel up...not only is that in efficient, its unsafe. They are more of a cargo plane than a Tanker.

What is on the table? For right now there are two proposals.
One from Boeing and one from Northrop Grumman (Building an French Airbus)
I do not fully agree with Boeing's offering. They want to give us a tanker version of the 767.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

the 767 is a great aircraft but it is already 25 years old...and if we keep her working as long as the KC-135 then she will be well over 75 years old. C'mon we can do better than that. I understand that a lot of the cost will have been offset because both Japan and Italy are now flying variants of the aircraft. She is already ancient technology. The 777 is too big for the job so I will not even go there. The 787 I think would be a great choice and since she is already in development she would be able to start out much like the old KC-135 did alongside the Boeing 707 (Yes, I understand that they in fact are really different aircraft...but close enough) How would fuel effect the whole composite structure of the 787? I do not know. One thing that Boeing just added to sweeten the deal is the services of Delta TechOps to KC-767 Advanced Tanker Team. These guys (and gals) are top notch in the aviation industry.
Northrop Grumman is trying to pitch the KC-30... (once the KC-330)
this is nothing more than a French built tanker version of the Airbus A330, (MRTT) .
I understand that these too are already flying and will soon be adopted in both the Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force. I have personal feelings that we do not need to be spending so much money on French aircraft...but, on paper, the KC-30 looks a tad better than the KC-767.

I feel we need a totally NEW design NOW.

In the end I want a US company to win...even if it is the KC-767

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