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 News Article

Boeing Wins Aerial Tanker Contract

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2011 – The Boeing Co. has won the contract to produce the Air Force’s KC-46A aerial refueling aircraft, replacing the Eisenhower-era KC-135s and the Reagan-era KC-10s.

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Left to right, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III, and Ashton B. Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, speak with members of the press about the KC-46A contract announcement at the Pentagon, Feb. 24, 2011. DOD photo by Cherie Cullen

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said the competition for the contract was fair, open and transparent and he believes it will survive any possible challenge.

“What we can tell you is Boeing was a clear winner,” Lynn said.

Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley made the announcement at the Pentagon this evening. Both offers –- by Boeing and EADS -– met all 372 mandatory requirements under the competition, he said. The contract signed today is for $3.5 billion for engineering and manufacturing. This portion of the contract will yield four aircraft.

Under this award Boeing will build 179 aircraft. Overall the contract is worth $30 billion with a final amount depending on the options exercised, Donley said.

“I am pleased that this process has produced an outcome after an exhaustive effort by hundreds of the department’s very best people, that we will get about delivering a capability that’s long overdue and we can stop talking about it,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz said.

The first 18 aircraft will be delivered by 2017.

Lynn said warfighters defined the requirements for the aircraft, and this is a fixed-price contract. “This competition favored no one, but the taxpayer and the warfighter,” he said.

Donley called the tanker buy the service’s No.1 need. He said he and Schwartz “are confident that when our young pilots, boom operators and maintainers receive this aircraft, they will have the tools they need to be successful at what we ask them to do.”

Boeing will use a version of the 767 aircraft for the new tanker. EADS based its submission on the Airbus A330.

Donley said Boeing’s submitted cost for the contract will provide “substantial savings to the taxpayer.”

This was the third time this contract has been awarded. In 2003, the Air Force agreed to lease aerial tankers from Boeing, but the deal fell through due to illegal acts that had involved some Boeing and Pentagon officials.

In February 2008, EADS won the reconfigured contract, but that was voided after the Government Accountability Office ruled that Boeing was treated unfairly.


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William J. Lynn III
Michael B. Donley
Ashton B. Carter
Air Force Gen. Norton A. Schwartz

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAshton B. Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, speaks with members of the press about the KC-46A contract announcement during a briefing with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley, and Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III, at the Pentagon, Feb. 24, 2011. DOD photo by Cherie Cullen  
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Article is closed to new comments.

The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

2/27/2011 12:57:25 PM
Why bother with any invitations for an outside bid; all-the-while, knowing the outsider has little chance of winning a contract. Good or bad, that's the way it is. Later on the taxpayer will be whipsawed into acceptance of contract cost overruns, you can bet on it.
- Fred Guillerman, Midwest

2/25/2011 5:35:40 PM
To the rest of the world, this looks like a rejigging of the rules to favour an American company's bid. Why should other countries open up their market to US defence equipment when their own companies' products aren't allowed to compete fairly in the US market? In the long run, this decision is likely to destroy more US jobs than it saves.
- Tom, Australia

2/24/2011 8:22:19 PM
thank god, yes god, that you gave it to an american company and not airbus. your actions will put some americans to work! just don't allow illegals in their. they don't deserve american jobs. again thank god for your decision. i'm a 47 year mechanic, electrician and welder if they need any help. thank you for giving americans jobs!
- John George, columbus ohio

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