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Navy Proposes Multi-Year for P-8 Production

The P-8 is the new maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft developed for the U.S. Navy. It will replace the venerable P-3 Orion aircraft that have been in service for almost 50 years. It is based on a Boeing (BA) 737 commercial airliner. The program is currently in low rate production for the Navy as well as India.

The most recent production order was placed earlier this year for 11 aircraft from the FY12 budget.

Now the Navy has asked for the authority to utilize a multi-year contract for the procurement of 72 aircraft. This contract could be worth well over $10 billion. It would support FY15-19 production indicating there would be two more annual orders placed in FY13 and FY14.

Normally large aircraft programs transition to a multi-year once production is at a steady state and the service has received approval of full rate production. The Navy believes that by FY15 these conditions will be met and a multi-year is the most effective way to buy the aircraft.

The Navy also operates the 737 in transport and command and control configurations.

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Boeing to Modernize U.S. Nuclear Bombs

In another demonstration about how the world of nuclear weapons and classification of information has changed it was announced that Boeing (BA) has received a contract from the U.S. Air Force to design a new tail kit for the standard B61 aerial nuclear weapon.

The contract is worth a little over $175 million and is part of a program to improve the weapon’s reliability and upgrade the design.

The B61 has been in existence for almost fifty years in various versions. Boeing will work with the Mod 12 of the bomb. The B61 is a key component of the current U.S. stockpile of weapons.

In the past even confirmation of the existence of this weapon would have been impossible and now contract awards are treated routinely.

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Update on Boeing’s (BA) Military Programs — Seeking Alpha

This is an exclusive post I wrote for Seeking Alpha on the current state of Boeing’s military aircraft programs.

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Boeing and United Technologies Earning Reports

January 27, 2012 by · Comment
Filed under: Boeing, Business Line, Companies, Earnings, Events, UTC 

I wrote an exclusive post on Boeing’s (BA) and United Technologies (UTX) recent earnings report for Seeking Alpha which may be found here.

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Boeing Releases Video of Phantom Eye UAV Engine Tests

Boeing (BA) released a story and video of the Phantom Eye UAV conducting some tests at Edwards Air Force Base. More can be found at their site.

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Boeing Continues to Announce Sub-Contractors for KC-46A

As the KC-46A aerial tanker program moves forward headed up by Boeing (BA) they continue to announce the different sub-contractors and parts suppliers. The latest is that BAE Systems (BAE:LSE), the British defense giant, will be providing touch panels to operate some of the systems on the aircraft.

The panels are derivatives of the current ones they manufacture for Boeing’s 737 airliner indicating that Boeing will follow its plan of utilizing components from its different aircraft to support the 767 based tanker. The cockpit is planned to be a version of that used in the new 787 Dreamliner expected to enter service in the next few months.

Boeing Issues Contracts for Cargo Nets

September 21, 2011 by · Comment
Filed under: Boeing, KC-X, KC-X Tanker News, Syndicated Industry News 

Boeing (BA) issued a contract to AmSafe Industries Inc. to manufacture the internal cargo nets for the KC-46A tanker aircraft. The contract has a value of about $45 million.

The barrier net system will be used to restrain and contain cargo inside the aircraft. One of the secondary missions of the modified 767 tanker being built by Boeing is to carry cargo and these nets are key to ensuring a safe flight.

AmSafe is one of the world’s leading manufacturer of these type of systems. They also build safety curtains as part of this to prevent any fire and smoke from the cargo area entering the cockpit and crew areas.

The KC-46A program is continuing a pace with the first aircraft expected to be flown in 2015. Ultimately the Air Force could buy over 170 of the aircraft from this contract.

Boeing and DoD Release Latest Estimate for KC-46A First Phase Contract

The Hill is reporting that Boeing (BA) currently estimates the first phase of the KC-46A contract at about $5.2 billion or 6% above the $4.9 billion ceiling price. All of that increase if that is what it turns out to be will be paid for by Boeing. The cost share of the difference between $3.9 billion target price and the $4.9 billion ceiling will be split between the Government and Boeing.

There was some consternation when the reports of Boeing’s efforts costing a great deal more then the $3.6 billion price at which the contract was awarded. This led to charges that Boeing “bought in” the contract by bidding deliberately low so that competitor EADS North America, part of European aerospace giant, EADS (EADS:P), could not win.

As the contract goes forward the total cost will change depending on what challenges the program faces and if it needs more time and investment to develop the variant of the Boeing 767 airliner. It may end up being less then $5.2 billion or even more as the program evolves.

Boeing Releases Video of the Italian KC-767

Boeing (BA) has released a video on their Youtube channel of the Italian acceptance of the first two of their four KC-767A tankers.

The video may be found here.

Recent Tanker News Link Round Up

The site has been quiet since the award of the KC-46A contract to Boeing (BA), but here are some links to articles about different aspects of the program and the companies involved in the contest:

Boeing is slowly releasing information about the KC-46A design.

World Trade Organization softens ruling against EADS (EADS:P). Boeing and U.S. still claim victory.

House puts strong cost controls on KC-46A with mandatory reporting requirements for Air Force.

First Australian KC-30 arrives at RAAF base for introduction into service.

Pall Wins $14 Million Centrisep® Order for U.S. Army CH-47 Helicopters

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Pall Corporation has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Army to supply its Centrisep® engine advanced protection system (EAPS) for Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters in the U.S. military fleet.

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Aviation Week to Feature Indepth Article on KC-46A and Acquisition Process

Aviation Week is announcing that they have a feature article on Boeing’s (BA) new tanker and the process to acquire it. It features a interview with Shay Assad, Director of Defense Procurement, Acquisition Policy and Strategic Sourcing.

The article will be in the 11 April edition and on their website.

EADS NA Will Not Protest

At a press conference earlier today EADS NA (EADS:P) stated that they will not protest the KC-X tanker award to Boeing (BA).

This means that the U.S. Air Force has awarded a new tanker contract successfully and the last decade of fits-and-starts is over. Now the emphasis shifts to Boeing and their efforts to meet the schedule and performance requirements of the program.

Hopefully this means in a few years the KC-46A will be flying over the United States.

Boeing Releases Video of KC-46A

February 24, 2011 by · Comment
Filed under: Boeing, KC-X, KC-X Tanker News, Syndicated Industry News 

CORRECTING AND REPLACING Fluor and Boeing Team to Pursue Sandia National Laboratories Work

IRVING, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Fluor and Boeing Announce Teaming Agreement to Pursue Sandia National Laboratories Work

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Air Force Confirms Slip While Their Error Roils Contest

24 November – Update: The Air Force reportedly reassigned the two persons involved in sending the information to the wrong bidders. They still claim that the error will not affect the contest. EADS has said on record that haven’t ruled out a protest based on this incident.

The Air Force in a recent announcement confirmed that the source selection for the KC-X new aerial tanker won’t be completed until second quarter of Fiscal Year 2011. This was part of a much more important admission by the military that they had accidentally sent evaluation information on Boeing (BA) and EADS (EADS:P) bids to the wrong teams. Boeing got EADS and vice versa.

The computer data files sent to the contractors included pricing data for the two bids. The effect of this error on the whole contest is yet undetermined and the Air Force seems to be trying to push through with the hope that the leak is minimal. Without the companies coming forward to admit to looking at the data there is no way of knowing how much effect this will have on the proposals.

Certainly this adds yet another twist to the ongoing saga that is the KC-X competition and will certainly play a role if there is a protest by the losing bidder.

GAO Denies U.S Aerospace’s Protest

The third bidder for the KC-X tanker contract, U.S. Aerospace (USAE) and its Ukrainian partner Antonov, had their protest denied yesterday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The company had filed the protest because the Air Force had said their proposal was delivered past the deadline for submission. U.S. Aerospace claimed that their courier was deliberately delayed and should have been allowed to make the delivery on time.

This decision leaves only the Boeing (BA) and EADS (EADS:P) bids as being considered for the contract. The Air Force had previously said that a decision would be announced around the middle of November but there have been reports that this might slip.

BRS Labs Behavioral Analytics™ Integrated into Boeing’s Virtual Shield™ Visual Security Operations Console (VSOC)

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--BRS Labs announces the inclusion of AISight into the integrated Boeing VSOC Virtual Shield suite of products. Virtual Shield is a part of the VSOC Sentinel Family of Intelligence, Surveillance and Rec

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Defense Department Reiterates Stand on C-17 Production

The C-17 transport has been in production now for almost twenty years and forms the backbone of the U.S. Air Force’s strategic lift. It replaced the Cold War era C-141 aircraft and has been built by Boeing (CA) at their plants in Long Beach, CA and St. Louis, MO. The Air Force actually possesses more C-17′s then originally planned because Congress has been adding them to the budget for the last few years. In 2010 the new Obama Administration did not request any further production of the system but Congress added them and the President did not follow through with a veto.

The 2011 defense budget also contained no C-17 procurement and this has been met with a better reception by Congress in general. There are still those Senators and Representatives from California, Missouri and Kansas who would like to see more aircraft built. They are certainly being used, but the Air Force and DoD argue that the money could be spent on more important parts of the defense budget. There are also concerns that when the Congress adds aircraft they do not necessarily fund the support which takes money out of the budget as well.

The Long Beach plant will close when production of the aircraft ends which would be a big blow to the local economy.

Despite Congress’ better attitude this year the Department must have some concerns as they released a strongly worded article yesterday detailing the reasons why no more aircraft are needed. This reads in part “..defense officials agreed with the subcommittee’s leaders, Sens. Thomas Carper and John McCain, that the C-17, in addition to the C-5, has been critical to airlift in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan. However, they said, the military’s current fleet of 223 C-17s and 111 C-5s is more than enough airlift capability for years to come.” It also contains a threat as last year that the President “.. has promised to veto any legislation that provides for more C-17s.”.

Does that mean there will be no more U.S. orders for the C-17? It might, and it might not. Congress is loathe to end programs like this that are not only successful, used and provide several hundred jobs across the U.S. Boeing certainly would like to keep the line going. The defense budget looks like it may make it to the floor of the Senate and House without C-17. That allows floor amendments and the conference committee to add the transports. If the Congressional leadership is disciplined it may end up without additions.

The other concern is how well Congress believes Obama will veto the bill over a few billion spent on the C-17. If they don’t think he will in the end as happened last year then the aircraft quantity may increase.

Photo from TMWolf Flickr photostream.

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Boeing and Antonov Follow EADS and Submit KC-X Proposals

Boeing (BA) submitted their proposal for the KC-X aerial tanker program a day after rival EADS (EADS:P) did. Today was the day it was formally due, EADS coming in a little early. The Boeing proposal stresses their cost and size benefits over competing EADS with their larger A330 based aircraft. Boeing is basing their bid on a modified 767 airliner with advanced avionics from the yet to enter service 787.

Also U.S. Aerospace and Antonov submitted their competing proposal after losing a bid to delay things sixty days. There total cost is under thirty billion for a contract the Air Force has estimated at $37.5 billion based on an aircraft cost of only $150 million each.

The Air Force plan is to award the contract in four months. The three bids may make the competition’s source selection last longer and may also raise the chance of a protest.

If the U.S. Aerospace / Antonov team wins it might get very interesting.

WTO Report on Airbus Subsidies Roils Tanker Battle Further

Yesterday the formal report by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on their investigation of complaints by the U.S. Government and Boeing (BA) that EADS (EADS:P) and its subsidiary, Airbus, received illegal subsidies was released. The WTO did not support all aspects of the complaint but did say that launch aid provided by European governments to the airliner company was wrong. This launch aid was normally in the provision of low interest loans that were only paid back once the sale of the aircraft became profitable. The aid was considered illegal export subsidies.

U.S. politicians supportive of Boeing’s bid for the new KC-X aerial tanker for the Air Force seized on the report to aid their quest to have EADS bid either rejected or adjusted to reflect the addition of the illegal subsidies. The Pentagon has clearly stated several times in the past that as part of their source selection process they cannot and will not take into account the loans and other aid.

Congress recently passed legislation in the House that is an attempt to force the Defense Department to do that. The Senate needs to also vote on it and it will then move to a discussion of whether the DoD will follow that requirement.

The WTO said that without this aid the company would not have been in as good financial shape as it has been and could not afforded to develop some products — including the superjumbo airliner A380. The WTO may force the company to pay back some of the money, or allow the U.S. to impose tariffs on European goods.

The WTO did rule though that other aid the company received such as tax breaks or infrastructure support rose to the level of illegal subsidies. EADS and the European governments will appeal the case back to the WTO and are waiting to hear about their counter complaint. In this they are claiming that the money Boeing received from the U.S. military for Research & Development (R&D) amounts to illegal subsidies as well as it helped develop their commercial aircraft. That ruling may be announced before the end of the month.

The KC-X program is now on its third attempt to buy a new tanker to replace the aging KC-135 aircraft. The WTO ruling will make it easier for Boeing’s supporters to claim EADS is undercutting prices and causing the source selection process to be even more difficult. It also allows for a protest by either company if they lose and will motivate Congress to interfere even more.

The situation has been caused by the lack of aircraft manufacturers in the world. Really only Boeing and EADS may bid on the contract. With the demise of McDonnell Douglas in the Nineties there exists only one U.S. source. Awarding a sole source contract to Boeing will be difficult and the Air Force wants at least a modicum of competition.

Further delays seem inevitable.

Photo from Monica’s Dad’s flickr photostream.

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Boeing Board Approves Quarterly Dividend of 42 Cents a Share

June 21, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Boeing, Syndicated Industry News 
Boeing Board Approves Quarterly Dividend of 42 Cents a Share
June 21, 2010

CHICAGO, - Boeing (NYSE: BA) Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney reports that the board of directors today declared a regular quarterly dividend of forty-two (42) cents per share.

The dividend is payable Sept. 3, 2010, to shareholders of record as of Aug. 6, 2010.

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Air Force Now Slips RFP Award Date to November

Earlier this year in responding to questions about the delay to the submissions of proposals to July due to the accommodation for EADS (EADS:P) the Air Force said the contract will start in mid-November. Now word is coming out that the award won’t be made until “late November”. Critics have seized on this changes as a delay due to the decision to allow EADS to bid.

Technically this is a delay of several weeks from the original schedule. The chances though of the Air Force meeting that were low as it was very aggressive. It only gave them four months to review proposals and conduct the award. Even if they assumed the new proposals were similar to the last ones in 2008 that amount of time to conduct a source selection for a contract of this size may have been a little unrealistic.

This decision will spur EADS’ opponents and Boeing (BA) supporters to further their current war of words.

Boeing Plans for New Presidential Helicopter Have a Role in KC-X

Here is a post I wrote at Defense Procurement News about Boeing’s (BA) decision to use the Augusta Westland 101 as the base aircraft for their new Presidential transport helicopter bid. It makes them look a little hypocritical on the whole EADS (EADS:P) role in KC-X.

Canada Considering Entering New Fighter Sweepstakes

Right now two of the biggest military aviation contracts out there are new fighters for Brazil and India. Both of these contracts have attracted bids from United States and European defense contractors. In Brazil the contest seems to be between the Boeing (BA) F/A-18 and the French Rafael. In India there have been offers from Boeing, Lockheed Martin (LMT), MiG of Russia, Rafael. Eurofighter and SAAB of Sweden. These contracts are interesting as all of these companies face declining markets at home due to budget difficulties and the decision by the U.S. and many of its Allies to focus on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) headed up by Lockheed.

Canada currently operates a force of older F/A-18 aircraft and is planning a potential buy of more modern aircraft worth about $9 billion (Canadian). Canada has put some money into the development of the JSF as have countries like Great Britain, the Netherlands, Australia and Japan but is not committed to buy the aircraft. They certainly could do that when the aircraft is ready in the 2015 – 2017 time frame or they could conduct a new competition. If they did this they would certainly draw a diverse group of suitors similar to what India has. The market for new fighters was supposed to stagnate as thousands of F-35 replace the F-16 aircraft of numerous U.S. Allies. Now with the delays and cost increases to that program some countries are having second thoughts.

A third major competition would be good for the industry and would allow some production lines like the SAAB Gripen to remain hot as the JSF program tries to get itself sorted out. If countries like Holland do decide to go a different path the market for current in production aircraft will increase greatly.

More fallout as the JSF program struggles with its cost and schedule may be expected as current customers re-think their commitments. This will increase the cost to the U.S. military while reducing Lockheed’s chances of making up some of their losses on the development piece of the contract. Canada if they choose to not buy the JSF may be the start of some bad news for the program and its prime contractor.

Photo from TMWolf flickr photostream.

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