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KC-45 Tanker Replacement Program

On 29 February 2008 Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne and Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Duncan J. McNabb announced the selection of Northrup Grumman as the winner of the KC-X competition for development and procurement of up to 179 tanker aircraft for approximately $35 billion. The initial contract for the newly named KC-45 is for the system design and development of four test aircraft for $1.5 billion. This contract also includes five production options targeted for 64 aircraft at $10.6 billion.

The contract is going to EADS, which is overseas. Boeing argued, however, that it would create about 40,000 American jobs here. Did that weigh into your decision at all? Obviously, with it going to EADS, there won't be as many American jobs created. The requirements of the RFP were not such that this was taken into consideration. The RFP had to do with requirements that the warfighter needed, and we balanced the requirements of the warfighter with the best value for the taxpayer, relative to how much this system is going to cost and how well it's going to perform.

"The tanker is the number one procurement priority for us right now," General McNabb said. "Buying the new KC-45A is a major step forward and another demonstration of our commitment to recapitalizing our Eisenhower-era inventory of these critical national assets. Today is not just important for the Air Force, however. It's important for the entire joint military team, and important for our coalition partners as well. The KC-45A will revolutionize our ability to employ tankers and will ensure the Air Force's future ability to provide our nation with truly Global Vigilance, Reach, and Power."

The KC-45A will provide significantly greater air refueling capabilities than the current fleet of Eisenhower-era KC-135 Stratotankers it will begin replacing. For example, it will be able to refuel Air Force and Navy aircraft on every flight. These aircraft have different systems for receiving fuel and today, KC-135s must be set up for one or the other before takeoff.

The KC-45A will be equipped for both systems on every flight and also will have connections for wing pods. When wing pods are installed, it can refuel two probe-equipped aircraft, such as those flown by Navy and many allied aircrews, at the same time. The KC-45A can even be refueled in flight by other tankers. The KC-45A also will have defensive systems that allow it to go into dangerous environments that tanker aircrews currently have to avoid. It will also supplement the airlift fleet by carrying cargo, passengers and medical patients in a secondary role.

The KC-X source selection used a "best value" determination to select a winner based on five factors: mission capability, proposal risk, past performance, cost/price and an integrated fleet air refueling assessment -- performance in a simulated war scenario. These five factors were developed after consulting with industry and were finalized prior to starting the competition. Considered together, these grading criteria ensured the Air Force maximized the capability delivered to the warfighter while optimizing the taxpayers' investment.

Air Force officials followed a carefully structured process, designed to provide transparency, maintain integrity and promote fair competition. Air Force officials met with offerors on numerous occasions to gain a thorough understanding of their proposals and provide feedback on their strengths and weaknesses. Officials also provided insight into government cost estimates throughout the process instead of waiting until the post-decision debrief. The competitors indicated they've been very pleased with the degree of communication.

The evaluation team comprised experts covering a broad spectrum of specialties from acquisition to operations and was hand-picked from across the Air Force and other government agencies. As part of the process, Air Force officials will now provide a written notice to both the selected and not-selected and offer to provide a debrief on their bid proposals. To maintain the integrity of that process, officials will be unable to provide additional information about the proposals and contract.

KC-45 Designation

The Air Force intended to designate its next aerial refueling aircraft the KC-45, regardless of whether Boeing's KC-767 or Northrop Grumman's KC-30 wins the KC-X tanker replacement contest. The Air Force approved the designation on 14 November 2006, based on an Air Mobility Command recommendation.

There were two series of C-planes, one beginning in 1924 and ending in 1962, and another one beginning in 1962 and continuing to the present day. The Beechcraft Model 18, or "Twin Beech", as it was better known, is a 6-11 place, twin-engine, low-wing, conventional-gear aircraft that was manufactured by the Beech Aircraft Corporation of Wichita, Kansas. This model saw service during and after World War II in a number of versions including the United States Army Air Forces C-45 Expeditor.

Andreas Parsch reports that "The C-42 designation was not assigned. There is a very popular small sport plane, which is marketed world-wide under the "C-42" (or "C42") label: the German Comco-Ikarus C-42. A DOD source said unofficially, that there was some concern about potential legal issues if C-42 would be used for an MDS, and that this number was therefore skipped. The designations C-43 and C-44 were skipped to avoid potential confusion with the existing T/CT-43 and T-44 designators. According to unofficial information from DOD, there is an informal policy in effect to avoid duplication of "well-known" numbers. However, C-45 was not skipped (KC-45A is the official MDS for the KC-X tanker program), and it remains unclear why T-45 should be any less "well-known" than T-43 and -44. One possible explanation is that both the T-43 (Boeing 707) and T-44 (Raytheon/Beech King Air) are transport-type airframes (the T-45 is a two-seat jet), and that it was therefore avoided to assign numbers 43 and 44 to other transport aircraft as well." One authoritative source asserts that the C-43 is the US Coast Guard military version of Canadair CL-641 Challenger, but there is no such aircraft.



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