Jump to content

Boeing-Airbus tanker competition reopened by USAF


Slater
 Share

Recommended Posts

Airbus/ Eurocopter somehow managed with the H145...(supposedly without Fenestron tailrotor for fear of technology transfer!) - definitely to my surprise!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, exdraken said:

Airbus/ Eurocopter somehow managed with the H145...(supposedly without Fenestron tailrotor for fear of technology transfer!) - definitely to my surprise!

 

Agreed! Although it tends to be much easier to sell into the Armies than Air Forces or Navies, at least in the Western world.

 

Air Forces/Navies are highly-technical services who want to "dot the Is and cross the Ts", whereas Armies are much more user-oriented. Many years ago, an Army helicopter mast-mounted sight specification was summarized by the Army procurement official as "Fundamentally, we're looking for a mirror on a stick". Refreshing, and unlikely to be said by the Navy or Air Force.

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/19/2021 at 8:37 PM, Slater said:

Interesting that all the aforementioned aircraft were originally McDonnell Douglas products.

Well, one of them.  The C-17 came from Douglas, the F-18 started at Northrop, the CH-47 wouldn't be around if it weren't for Vertol, and the AH-64 was invented by Hughes.  But there does seem to be remarkably little actual Boeing stuff in their range, doesn't there?

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/15/2021 at 1:24 PM, exdraken said:

Questions are:

Is Airbus even going to bid?

Would Boeing then offer a differ platform?

What is needed to replace the KC-10s unique capabilities?

1. They would be stupid if they didn't (and - as a shareholder - I'd personally attend the next AGM, whenever that physically takes place, and flog all responsible if failing to - this means yes, I am biased). I admit I am not up to full scratch on the topic, but the very fact there is an RfP (sort of) for an article supposedly covered by the "sale of the century" (one of a lot, actually) tends to suggest someone is very, very unhappy with what they bought/were forced upon them. IIRC the KC-X programme theoretically covered replacement of the full tanker/transport fleet. If they now slice it I'd be inclined to think that someone - preferably those who have to work with it - has realised the 46 is a dead end ultimately and is using the back door to get out of something and into something more promising.

2. They could ask Northrop-Grumman for a licence for the KA-6D to get something that works; however, I don't think that would fit with the strategic aspect, possibly 😜 Apart from that, they could try to resell the KC-135 to the USAF and hope they won't notice. At least the 135 has worked for the past 60+ years, which is to say something about a (no, I won't write that...). Otherwise, which alternative? KC-11, on the basis of an airframe long since buried (and possibly being of little add-on value vs. the KC-10)? 777? Or taking a cheapo way out and buying up lots of relatively fresh 747 hulks off the desert and metamorphosing them for a second life? Actually that may be a way forward on a rather limited scale. --- If non of the above: Which other option? I see none.

3. Most likely something the KC-46 dos not offer. An airplane that flies. And refuels. And carries cargo. Is there an airborne refueller of the Cessna 207?

 

On 8/15/2021 at 5:45 PM, XV107 said:

If the KC-45 had gone forward, it'd have been put together in a new factory which was to be built in Mobile, AL.

 

Airbus did, subsequently, build the factory and it builds/assembles A320s. One of the Alabama senators is on the Armed Services Committee, which may give EADS a bit of extra 'oomph' on that side of things, particularly given all that's gone wrong with the KC-46. I've no doubt that if EADS decided to bid, the rather chequered history of the KC-46 and a comparison with the RAF/RAAF experience with Voyager/KC330 will probably make an appearance in the debate over which to procure; there is some pretty bi-partisan criticism of the complete horlicks that KC-46 has been to date.

 

 

The original Boeing/Airbus spat was over the KC-X programme; this is the KC-Y programme, the 'Bridge Tanker' which will come into service when the KC-46's deliveries are scheduled to be completed in 2029, although full rate production of the '46 has been pushed back to 2024 (7 years late). If - as could well happen - there are still issues with the KC-46 as the decision on KC-y is taken, it may be that the political pressure to adopt a different airframe will be almost insurmountable.

 

On the flip side, Boeing has lost a lot of money on KC-46, and KC-Y might offer the opportunity to recoup some of that if they win - I don't think they'll be shying away from a bid, somehow.

As you say, the Mobile plant assembles 320s for close to 10 years now. Not sure what they did with the Canadair RJ aka 220, but I think they intended to move production for US customers there in response to Trumpian customs plans; did they? In any case, Airbus have a rock solid industrial base in the US to provide the US forces with a US-produced article if that is what it is all about (it probably is...). --- If I'm not mistaken, EADS is a thing long past due, it's Airbus SE for quite some time now.

 

KC-X vs. KC-Y was, AFAIR, not included in the original RfP's. Therefore, as stated above, if they now apply "Salami tactics", that appears to indicate that DoD legal staff are seeking ways to get out of the X-phase and into Y., on a completely new basis. I am convinced Boeing will bid - they have to -, but as I read it, the whole exercise is about he Air Force getting out of the 46.

On 8/15/2021 at 6:05 PM, EwenS said:

But of course the USAF won't want to simply buy the Voyager/KC330 as it stands. Like the KC-46 programme before it, there will be a long line of mods that need to be integrated into the Airbus airframe. Toilets anyone? Isn't that one of the issues with the KC-46?

I'd say it depends on what they (USAF/powers that be) want. In the end, the final outcome of KC-X after intervention by the GOoA was a downgraded requirement that favoured Boeing with the cheaper but less capable proposal. The concept is there and has been for longer than my elder daughter delights me, as well as a proven product (this means 45, not 46,) I see few hindrances Airbus will be able to deliver, soon. Especially now as wide-bodies are not at the top of the airline's wants list.

35 minutes ago, KevinK said:

Just another observation: regardless of their US-manufactured content, EADS will still need a US Prime Contractor as a partner on any bid they might make. The basic reasons are that their aircraft will need to be (1) procured under US DoD regulations and (2) integrated into existing defense architecture/operations/procedures, etc. It's quite a big, time-consuming job, with the potential to derail the purchase if not understood and executed well.

A most important point - or not, not sure actually. If Airbus elect to bid on the RfP with a product assembled in Alabama, with a legal entity registered in the US, and - say - a well over 50% locally produced product. Would this still require Airbus to have a(n additional) homeplayer on board?

Not that I doubt either LM or NG would miss the chance to kick Boeing, vertically, horizontally or diagonally.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

30 minutes ago, tempestfan said:

Would this still require Airbus to have a(n additional) homeplayer on board?

:nodding: Never underestimate the intransigence of politicians to ruin a perfectly viable option for the sake of 'representing' their constituents (even if they have to raise taxes for said constituents to compensate for it)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

46 minutes ago, tempestfan said:

Otherwise, which alternative? KC-11, on the basis of an airframe long since buried (and possibly being of little add-on value vs. the KC-10)? 777? Or taking a cheapo way out and buying up lots of relatively fresh 747 hulks off the desert and metamorphosing them for a second life? Actually that may be a way forward on a rather limited scale. --- If non of the above: Which other option? I see none.

hmm

what about the more modern alternatives? 

no interest in a 787 frighter/ tanker?  just adding the 787 cockpit obviously did not solve the 767 obsolence issues totally...

 

are there planes to proceed from the A350? would that change the game sufficiently?

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Beermonster1958 said:

That surely wouldn't be a state bail out, in effect, a government subsidy.

 Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't that essentially what Boeing has been whining about for years -  state subsidies to Airbus?

Karma is a bitch!

John

Indeed but there's always a work around. One person's subsidy is another person's not a subsidy at all. Hypocrisy? No way. 

 

The problem with Boeing is it's too big to fail. But then again aviation is littered with companies that were too big to fail. But they're gone. 

 

Personally I wouldn't want Boeing to fail. But I have no control. 

 

Edited by noelh
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, pigsty said:

Well, one of them.  The C-17 came from Douglas, the F-18 started at Northrop, the CH-47 wouldn't be around if it weren't for Vertol, and the AH-64 was invented by Hughes.  But there does seem to be remarkably little actual Boeing stuff in their range, doesn't there?

Douglas I think has been a thing of the past since about 1972 or thereabouts, so we'll have to accept the C-17 as an MDD Santa Monica project, which equates to a lot of C-47/54/124/133 etc genealogy to apply (sorry for my lapse of conscience - Globemaster I = C-74?).

And yes, the F-18  is rooted in Northrop's YF-17, the Chinook is a Pennsylvania product from its inception, and the Apache is something like a triple-cross product. Boeing is a buy-in affair.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, KevinK said:

Just another observation: regardless of their US-manufactured content, EADS will still need a US Prime Contractor as a partner on any bid they might make. The basic reasons are that their aircraft will need to be (1) procured under US DoD regulations and (2) integrated into existing defense architecture/operations/procedures, etc. It's quite a big, time-consuming job, with the potential to derail the purchase if not understood and executed well.

You sure about that?

 

Genuine question. Last time round EADS teamed with Northrop Grumman. But in March 2010 the latter withdrew. In April EADS announced it would go ahead on a stand alone basis. It was Feb 2011 that the contract was awarded to Boeing. 

 

How could they they go ahead on their own if they didn’t comply with the basic procedures? Has something changed in the interim?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, tempestfan said:

1. They would be stupid if they didn't (and - as a shareholder - I'd personally attend the next AGM, whenever that physically takes place, and flog all responsible if failing to - this means yes, I am biased). I admit I am not up to full scratch on the topic, but the very fact there is an RfP (sort of) for an article supposedly covered by the "sale of the century" (one of a lot, actually) tends to suggest someone is very, very unhappy with what they bought/were forced upon them. IIRC the KC-X programme theoretically covered replacement of the full tanker/transport fleet. If they now slice it I'd be inclined to think that someone - preferably those who have to work with it - has realised the 46 is a dead end ultimately and is using the back door to get out of something and into something more promising.

2. They could ask Northrop-Grumman for a licence for the KA-6D to get something that works; however, I don't think that would fit with the strategic aspect, possibly 😜 Apart from that, they could try to resell the KC-135 to the USAF and hope they won't notice. At least the 135 has worked for the past 60+ years, which is to say something about a (no, I won't write that...). Otherwise, which alternative? KC-11, on the basis of an airframe long since buried (and possibly being of little add-on value vs. the KC-10)? 777? Or taking a cheapo way out and buying up lots of relatively fresh 747 hulks off the desert and metamorphosing them for a second life? Actually that may be a way forward on a rather limited scale. --- If non of the above: Which other option? I see none.

3. Most likely something the KC-46 dos not offer. An airplane that flies. And refuels. And carries cargo. Is there an airborne refueller of the Cessna 207?

 

As you say, the Mobile plant assembles 320s for close to 10 years now. Not sure what they did with the Canadair RJ aka 220, but I think they intended to move production for US customers there in response to Trumpian customs plans; did they? In any case, Airbus have a rock solid industrial base in the US to provide the US forces with a US-produced article if that is what it is all about (it probably is...). --- If I'm not mistaken, EADS is a thing long past due, it's Airbus SE for quite some time now.

 

KC-X vs. KC-Y was, AFAIR, not included in the original RfP's. Therefore, as stated above, if they now apply "Salami tactics", that appears to indicate that DoD legal staff are seeking ways to get out of the X-phase and into Y., on a completely new basis. I am convinced Boeing will bid - they have to -, but as I read it, the whole exercise is about he Air Force getting out of the 46.

I'd say it depends on what they (USAF/powers that be) want. In the end, the final outcome of KC-X after intervention by the GOoA was a downgraded requirement that favoured Boeing with the cheaper but less capable proposal. The concept is there and has been for longer than my elder daughter delights me, as well as a proven product (this means 45, not 46,) I see few hindrances Airbus will be able to deliver, soon. Especially now as wide-bodies are not at the top of the airline's wants list.

A most important point - or not, not sure actually. If Airbus elect to bid on the RfP with a product assembled in Alabama, with a legal entity registered in the US, and - say - a well over 50% locally produced product. Would this still require Airbus to have a(n additional) homeplayer on board?

Not that I doubt either LM or NG would miss the chance to kick Boeing, vertically, horizontally or diagonally.

I think you are confusing two different aircraft.

 

Bombardier CRJ with engines on aft fuselage. That programme was sold off to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in June 2020 with orders fulfilled from the Canadian production line.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombardier_CRJ

 

Airbus 220 (born as the Bombardier C Series) with underwing engines. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus_A220

 

The latter began production in Canada and production has been augmented by an Alabama production line from Oct 2020. A new factory was constructed to build it.

https://www.airbus.com/newsroom/press-releases/en/2020/10/airbus-delivers-its-first-usassembled-a220-from-mobile-alabama.html

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

38 minutes ago, alt-92 said:

:nodding: Never underestimate the intransigence of politicians to ruin a perfectly viable option for the sake of 'representing' their constituents (even if they have to raise taxes for said constituents to compensate for it)

Well, you can wreck any viable proposal if you have enough power I guess. Question is how long your constituents remember. I do not intend to be political but the history of this specific RfP shows this has been political from the get-go and most likely will remain so, regardless of the Administration.

22 minutes ago, exdraken said:

hmm

what about the more modern alternatives? 

no interest in a 787 frighter/ tanker?  just adding the 787 cockpit obviously did not solve the 767 obsolence issues totally...

 

are there planes to proceed from the A350? would that change the game sufficiently?

 

 

Monsieur Faury has announced a 350 freighter for 2025 at the latest if I am not mistaken. This or a 787-based derivative may be a way forward, but I doubt the USAF is keen on another 5 to 10 years lead time, which would likely be the case if a refuelling option is integrated in any of the SotA airfames. Deliveries of a 330neo-based airframe should be feasible in less than 12 months, and if only to keep the assembly lines occupied. Maybe now's the time for the USAF to negotiate for a good bargain...?

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, EwenS said:

You sure about that?

 

Genuine question. Last time round EADS teamed with Northrop Grumman. But in March 2010 the latter withdrew. In April EADS announced it would go ahead on a stand alone basis. It was Feb 2011 that the contract was awarded to Boeing. 

 

How could they they go ahead on their own if they didn’t comply with the basic procedures? Has something changed in the interim?

 

Good question. It all depends on their confidence in their own understanding of the requirements. Airbus can certainly leverage their hard-won previous C-46 experience.

 

I've worked on both sides of the fence and on both sides of the Atlantic in aerospace procurement and I've seen major Primes screw up by not understanding RFP elements or their implications. It usually adds to your probability of success to have someone on your team who gives confidence to the customer that you have drawn on all the best experience which complements your own. For Airbus, no-one would doubt their ability to produce a good, workable tanker, but they will also need to show how it integrates into the US war-fighting fleet. If Airbus can do this on its own resources, they may not need a partner.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 minutes ago, EwenS said:

I think you are confusing two different aircraft.

 

Bombardier CRJ with engines on aft fuselage. That programme was sold off to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in June 2020 with orders fulfilled from the Canadian production line.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombardier_CRJ

 

Airbus 220 (born as the Bombardier C Series) with underwing engines. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus_A220

 

The latter began production in Canada and production has been augmented by an Alabama production line from Oct 2020. A new factory was constructed to build it.

https://www.airbus.com/newsroom/press-releases/en/2020/10/airbus-delivers-its-first-usassembled-a220-from-mobile-alabama.html

 

 

Not sure I do, as I flew on a fuselage-engined Canadiar/Airbus clearly labelled as the both f them out of Torino not that long ago - but point is taken.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/19/2021 at 10:47 AM, KevinK said:

Boeing has been losing its experience base for many years. Their strength in engineering is now gone: retirements, quits and the inability of the company to interest young engineers in a career ... because they perceive that executive management has failed.

I'm informed that Boeing used to require senior management to be engineers or some background qualifications, etc.

That no longer happens and the "leadership" comes from people with a different mindset to the production staff.

 

 

When the USAF refuses to accept the finished product because of quality control issues, then requires its own QC staff to final check the tankers prior to acceptance, there are bigger underlying issues.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Boeing-Airbus tanker competition reopened by USAF"

 

Boeing and Airbus both submit bids. The lowest tender is announced. Then the lawyers and judiciary get involved. This goes on for several years. Then Boeing is declared winner. Simple.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, Nigel Bunker said:

"Boeing-Airbus tanker competition reopened by USAF"

 

Boeing and Airbus both submit bids. The lowest tender is announced. Then the lawyers and judiciary get involved. This goes on for several years. Then Boeing is declared winner. Simple.

Buy why have a bid in the first place?

USAF might also have heard of the process already....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello exdraken

Pro forma perhaps, although even if the competition is rigged, competing bids help to lower the final price of the contract. In similar way Ryanair reduced the price of their new aircraft (about 100 B737 IIRC) some twenty years ago when, apart from Boeing, they also negotiated with Airbus. Cheers

Jure

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, Jure Miljevic said:

Pro forma perhaps, although even if the competition is rigged, competing bids help to lower the final price of the contract.

you have a point here of course...

 

but they will get it later, and ultimately not cheaper it seems.....  just my 2cts of course

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...