EADS Sells More A330 Tankers To Saudi Arabia

by: Matthew Potter
July 28, 2009

Category: Australia, Boeing, Business Line, commercial aviation, Companies, Congress, Contract Additions, Countries, Department of Defense, development program, EADS, England, Events, Japan, logistics, Military Aviation, Northrop Grumman Corp., production program, Services, U.S. Air Force, UAE, United States | RSS 2.0

EADS announced today that Saudi Arabia had doubled their order for aerial tankers by buying three more A330 MRT aircraft. This means that the Kingdom will now have six of the advanced tankers. They along with the U.K., Australia and the U.A.E. have ordered the aircraft. As part of the buy of the new aircraft Saudi Arabia has ordered logistic and parts support for the tankers although no contract value was announced.

The big contract for military refueling aircraft is the new tanker for the United States Air Force (USAF). EADS and Northorp Grumman had won the contract for the KC-X last year only to see it overturned on a Boeing protest. Now the new Obama Administration and the USAF will try again with a completely new RFP. That contract would be for over one hundred aircraft and would dwarf previous orders. There is still discussion of possibly splitting the contract between the two suppliers with a goal of maximizing the number of aircraft delivered in a short time. The USAF and Defense Department are against that as the two aircraft would require their own substantial support tail of parts, maintenance and training which would be quite expensive.

The A330 is a bigger aircraft then the 767 proposed by Boeing last time but requires larger airfields and more gas to fly a comparable mission. The bigger aircraft can carry more fuel for other aircraft so there has to be a balance struck there. It is definitely conceivable that the loser of the next contract will protest anyway so there may be further delays to the acquisition of the greatly needed capability.

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