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DoD Testers Express Concerns with KC-46A Schedule

One of the issues facing Boeing (BA) and the KC-46A new aerial tanker program is that it is already behind schedule. The Air Force originally planned to award a contract in 2001-2002 timeframe and have new tankers flying before 2010. The contract was not awarded until almost a decade later and the first aircraft will begin service in 2017. This was caused by three attempts to conduct the source selection with Boeing winning the third round from EADS North America, part of EADS (EADS:P).

This has meant the current initial development contract is very short. Boeing is planning on taking commercial B-767 aircraft off of their line, installing a new cockpit from the 787 as well as necessary military gear. They also need to demonstrate that the aircraft is able to meet the requirements of the Air Force and keep it all within cost as Boeing agreed to a fixed price development contract.

The Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (D,OT&E) which is an independent body within DoD responsible for evaluating programs performance as well as their overall test plans releases an annual report reviewing major defense programs and their test plans. They expressed concerns to Congress that the KC-46A is hoping to conduct a very aggressive test campaign. In their report, which may be found on their website here, they write that in their opinion “The DOT&E review of the post-Milestone B draft TEMP indicates the KC-46 test program is not executable.”

This is due for the following reasons:

 

 

The organization recommends a new Test & Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP) be developed that includes a more realistic schedule for testing.

The Air Force, of course, disputes D,OT&E claims and believes the testing schedule is appropriate and executable. They feel that they have structured the program to support a proper OT decision and then into production and service.

The other pressure is on Boeing as an extension of the test program will cost them money. The fixed price contract has already reached a point where there is little slack or money left in it. More flight hours, more tests and more re-work will cost Boeing and reduce the potential for any profit on this contract. The Air Force recognizes this as they add in their defense of the program that they “structured the KC-46 development contract as a fixed price contract to protect the DoD and taxpayers from any cost growth on the program if the test program is not executed as planned.” So Boeing will pay for these issues if any.

D,OT&E can tend to be very conservative when it comes to these types of assessments but that does not mean they are right. One of the biggest issues affecting program development timelines is the need for more testing. Problems are discovered that were not necessarily anticipated and they take time to fix and then there is also time added to do the test again. The KC-46A is probably looking at a test program that will take some amount of time between their estimate and D,OT&E. Even if there is only a little growth it will affect Boeing’s cost and bottom line.

Recriminations in Kansas for Boeing

As can be expected with Boeing’s (BA) decision to close their Wichita, KS facility and move work to Washington and Texas the politicians who represent the state are not happy. Many Congressman and Senators who provided support to Boeing to win the KC-46A contract from the U.S. Air Force feel betrayed.

They cite the fact that Boeing executives basically promised the work would be done in Kansas if the contract was one creating thousands of jobs in that state.

The Mayor of Wichita, Carl Brewer, feels the same way. He claims Boeing has betrayed the city by their decision. Wichita has invested millions of the taxpayers money in the plant which has been open since the 1930′s and built bombers during World War II and the Cold War. Now in about 24 months it will stop work and the jobs will be eliminated or moved.

The decision by Boeing based the company claims on cost considerations alone highlight what may happen across the U.S. as the defense budget shrinks and programs are cut or eliminated. Similar scenes have happened before in the 70′s and 90′s as military spending has been reduced. Wichita may be the first of many cities this time around.

That, of course, does not make those who supported Boeing feel better but now they may join the Florida and Alabama representatives who tried to aid Northrop Grumman (NOC) and EADS North America, part of EADS (EADS:P) who worked for those companies to win the KC-X contract. The goal for them of course was investment and jobs in a time when manufacturing ones are hard to find.

As government spending is cut back there will be many other politicians crying foul.

Recriminations in Kansas for Boeing

As can be expected with Boeing’s (BA) decision to close their Wichita, KS facility and move work to Washington and Texas the politicians who represent the state are not happy. Many Congressman and Senators who provided support to Boeing to win the KC-46A contract from the U.S. Air Force feel betrayed.

They cite the fact that Boeing executives basically promised the work would be done in Kansas if the contract was one creating thousands of jobs in that state.

The Mayor of Wichita, Carl Brewer, feels the same way. He claims Boeing has betrayed the city by their decision. Wichita has invested millions of the taxpayers money in the plant which has been open since the 1930’s and built bombers during World War II and the Cold War. Now in about 24 months it will stop work and the jobs will be eliminated or moved.

The decision by Boeing based the company claims on cost considerations alone highlight what may happen across the U.S. as the defense budget shrinks and programs are cut or eliminated. Similar scenes have happened before in the 70’s and 90’s as military spending has been reduced. Wichita may be the first of many cities this time around.

That, of course, does not make those who supported Boeing feel better but now they may join the Florida and Alabama representatives who tried to aid Northrop Grumman (NOC) and EADS North America, part of EADS (EADS:P) who worked for those companies to win the KC-X contract. The goal for them of course was investment and jobs in a time when manufacturing ones are hard to find.

As government spending is cut back there will be many other politicians crying foul.

Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) Facing Uncertain Future

The C-27J Spartan is a twin engined light transport aircraft purchased for the U.S. Air Force from a team made up of L-3 Communications (LLL) and Alenia North America, part of the Italian defence and industrial group Finmeccanica. The C-27 is not only used by the U.S. but other countries across the world.

The C-27 was the result of a program originally called the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) which was conceived by the Army as part of their plans caused by the decision to cancel the RH-66 Comanche helicopter in 2004. The Comanche was going to be a new attack and reconnaissance helicopter utilizing many new technologies to maximize its stealth and performance. In development for almost twenty years it finally had begun serious testing when it was cancelled. The money freed up was used to by systems like the UH-60M, the AH-64D Block III, CH-47F and UH-72A helicopters.

The Army suffered from a lack of internal heavy lift for intra-theater missions unlike the Marine Corps who possessed their own C-130 transports. The JCA was meant to add this capability and relieve the pressure on the rotary wing fleet primarily being used to carry cargo in Afghanistan and Iraq. Fixed wing assets would be more efficient and economical.

In 2007 the Army and Air Force selected the C-27 from L-3 and Alenia over bids by Raytheon (RTN), who had teamed with EADS North America, offering a Spanish made C-295 and Lockheed Martin (LMT) who proposed a C-130 version. An initial contract worth about $2 billion for 78 aircraft was awarded to the winners.

The JCA was made a joint program and it was originally planned to issue it to Army and Air Force National Guard units to operate. In 2010 the Obama administration decided to transfer the program wholly to the Air Force to manage and operate. The number of aircraft was potentially reduced and only the Air Force Guard would receive it.

The first unit stood up in 2011 in Ohio where four aircraft will be based at Mansfield. In 2013 the Connecticut and the North Dakota Guard are supposed to received the aircraft.

There are now concerns that the C-27 program may be on the chopping block due to budgetary pressures. The Connecticut unit may be the first to feel this pain although the 2012 budget as submitted does contain the funding for the aircraft it may not make it into the final budget.

The C-27 is not a priority for the Air Force and new equipment for the Guard also sometimes takes hits. If the Air Force leadership is forced to sacrifice some of their funding it may be the C-27 is what is given up. It is also a small program and is primarily oriented towards non-combat missions at this time further making it easier to give up.

As the budget goes through these machinations over the next few years other programs similar to the C-27 may be on the chopping block. That does not mean they will be eliminated but they could see cuts, delays and changes to their size, missions and deployment plans. These programs will have to rely on the Congressmen and Senators who represent the states where they are made or based to protect them through trading of priorities and support.

The size of the cuts the Defense Department must make dictate that whole programs whether in development of production will have to be cut. The C-27 might just be one of them.

Photo from Blyzz’s Flickr photostream.

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Lockheed Workers Agree to New Contract Will Aid in Lowering Costs for Company

Most people do not realize that the large defense contractors in the United States have a unionized workforce. It is more then just their manufacturing related employees but often includes engineers and support staff as well. Boeing (BA), Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Northrop Grumman (NOC) who make aircraft and ships especially have this as one of their considerations because it does effect costs.

One of the advantages that EADS North America (EADS:P) was going to offer with their tanker program was a non-unionized workforce in Alabama that should have been a lower cost then Boeing’s unionized one in Washington state. Boeing though was able to get their costs in line and propose a cheaper solution to the KC-X mission.

While labor relations in the defense industry have tended to be fairly stable there have been strikes in the recent past. Both Sikorsky (UTX) and Boeing faced labor stoppages that did have some effect on their production of aircraft for the military and other defense customers. As with many recent contract negotiations the issues had more to do with benefits and health care costs rather then wages and work rules.

Now Lockheed Martin’s workers represented by the machinists union have signed a new deal rather then go on strike as recommended by the union. These workers are primarily in Georgia and are involved in C-130 production and other work. The major dispute in this negotiation was the company’s plan to have new employees get a much less generous pension plan then existing ones.

Lockheed’s goal was to reduce their costs and with most companies their labor is their biggest expense. They face extreme pressure from the Defense Department to control costs on the F-35 program and this type of contract with a sizable portion of their workforce will aid them in doing that. The problem though is that whether in the long run the company can reduce benefits and maintain their experienced, effective workforce who are key to production of systems on time and to meet the military’s needs.

Photo from Beige Alert’s flickr photostream.

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Will EADS Protest?

Now that the U.S. Air Force and Defense Department have awarded the KC-X new aerial tanker contract to Boeing (BA) for their KC-46A aircraft the major question is whether the losing EADS NA (EADS:P) bid will protest? In 2008 when the Air Force selected Northrop Grumman (NOC) and EADS Boeing did protest and the choice was overturned leading to this current iteration of the contest. Considering this is the only fixed wing aviation program in the near future or at least until the Next Generation Bomber program emerges it may be hard for EADS not to protest on the chance that they might win or at least there would be another competition.

In their public statement the company is non-committal about the chances of filing a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO). They say “EADS North America officials today expressed disappointment and concern over the announcement by the U.S. Air Force that it had selected a high-risk, concept aircraft over the proven, more capable KC-45 for the nation’s next aerial refueling tanker.” but they also say ““Though we had hoped for a different outcome, it’s important to remember that this is one business opportunity among many for EADS in the United States,”. So read into that what you may.

At a minimum the filing of an unsuccessful protest would delay the initiation of the contract for about 100 days making the delivery of any new tankers to the Air Force even later then they will be after an almost ten year process to build a new one.

EADS Claims Able to Lower Price on Offer This Time Around

With the submission of their second proposal for the KC-X aerial tanker program EADS (EADS:P) stated that due to production increases they were able to lower the price on their KC-30 tanker aircraft. Chairman of EADS North America, Ralph Crosby, said by about six percent.

EADS and Boeing (BA) are trying for a second time to win the new tanker for the U.S. Air Force that will replace the aging KC-135R aircraft. In 2008 EADS which was teamed with Northrop Grumman (NOC) won the last contest which was overturned on protest by Boeing. The two companies submitted their final proposals last week.

Boeing has not provided such details but has previously stated that their smaller KC-767 aircraft has better fuel efficiency and maintenance costs that will save the Air Force money over the long run.

In recent testimony the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, indicated that the award announcement will be made in a few weeks following up on the Air Force’s budget document which indicated prior to April 1st.

Both Companies Submit Final Proposals But Will Continuing Resolution Allow Award?

It has been confirmed that both Boeing (BA) and EADS North America (EADS:P) submitted their final proposals for the KC-X aerial tanker program. The Air Force had asked that they be submitted by today and both companies turned them in early.

One pressing question that remains is if the Department of Defense remains under Continuing Resolution (CR) for the rest of the year rather then Congress passing a proper budget is it possible to award the new contract? It looks like the Republican controlled House is planning on doing CR until the new Fiscal Year (FY) starts in October. There has not yet been any statement from the Government on this question.

One would think that even if the source selection is carried out and a winner chosen with the caveat that the contract award would have to wait until the next FY it might affect the pricing. Having a requirement to guarantee the pricing for several months has not been identified yet and it would have some effect on each company’s bids.

As everything with this program nothing is easy and it seems this third attempt may be even more complex and controversial than the first two.

EADS Bids A330MRTT for Indian Contract

The Indian military as part of its ongoing efforts to upgrade the overall technology of their equipment has tendered a contract for new aerial tankers. Currently they use a version of the Russian Ilyushin (IL)-78 tanker developed several years ago and in service with the Russian military. Reportedly Airbus, and EADS (EADS:P) company, and Ilyushin will submit bids for this contract.

Last year Airbus had submitted a proposal to sell the A330MRTT tanker to India but the contract award was canceled by the Finance Ministry as being too expensive. This contest is a result of that decision.

The A330MRTT is undergoing certification testing for Australia as well as being built for the United Kingdom and the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia. It is also going to be EADS North America’s submission for the KC-X tanker contract for the U.S. Air Force.

Of note the existing IL-78 tankers have been supporting the flight demonstrations for India’s MMRCA new fighter contract. This means they have required the contestants to be modified to work with the IL-78. Competitors include the F/A-18, Rafael, SAAB Gripen, MiG and Eurofighter. This demonstrates that the IL-78 may be able to fuel a fleet of modern Western aircraft.

If Airbus does win the Indian competition it is only for a few aircraft but it will aid them in getting their production processes in place to get ready for the much larger KC-X contract. The more of the model of the aircraft flying as well will help them with the overall cost of the aircraft and program. Just as the more 767 tankers Boeing (BA) sells to other countries the better for them.

Rumors Percolate of a February Award for KC-X

There are starting to be media reports that indicate the U.S. Air Force will announce the winner of the KC-X aerial tanker contract in February of this year. The decision had been planned before the end of 2010 but due to delays in reviewing the proposals and the inadvertent slip up of sending the competition’s information to the two bidders it has now moved to 2011.

In a recent presenstion the Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Donley, said that Senate hearings into the information mess may be limited due to the current source selection process. To some this indicates the Air Force does not want the hearing near the decision announcement. The award and potential protest would also constrain what information could be given to the Senate and discussed at the hearing.

Sean O’Keefe, EADS North America’s CEO, also recently said that he expects the award soon. He believes best and final offers will be submitted before January 31st and then the Air Force decision in February.

This will be the third attempt to buy a replacement for the KC-135 aircraft since 2001. The Air Force, Boeing (BA) and EADS (EADS:P) all hope that it will be the last and final try.

There is a good chance no matter who wins the award that there will be a protest. The 35 billion plus contract for these aircraft is the biggest military aviation contract right now. It is critical to both companies aircraft production plans and would give them a significant advantage in future tanker competitions world wide.

Loren Thompson Predicts EADS Win

The well known aerospace analyst writes that based on discussions he has had it looks good for EADS North America to win the current KC-X new aerial tanker competition. He believes that the information accidentally shared by the U.S. Air Force with EADS and its U.S. competitor, Boeing (BA), indicate that the analysis by the source selection board favors EADS A330 MTT based bid.

EADS did win the contest two years ago teamed with Northrop Grumman (NOC) only to have it overturned on protest by Boeing. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruled that the Air Force had not applied its own criteria properly in evaluating those bids.

This time around EADS bid by itself and proposed basically the same aircraft. Boeing bid a modified version of their 767 tanker incorporating parts of the new 787 cockpit and other improvements.

Last month the Air Force had to admit it sent information to the two bidders about the others after mixing up the CD’s with data.

In Thompson’s analysis the data showed the Air Force favoring the EADS aircraft. Of course Boeing will have a chance to protest if they really do lose this contract.

In another piece of this very complicated puzzle this latest development may have serious affects on the latest attempt to replace the KC-135 Cold War era tankers.

Robonic delivers new drone catapults to the US — Press Release

Robonic delivers new drone catapults to the US

Tampere, Finland, August, 23rd, 2010

Robonic Ltd Oy (a subsidiary of Sagem, Safran group) has delivered a second Robonic MC2555LLR pneumatic launcher to EADS North America to be used to expand ongoing target drone services for the United States Army.

The end user is the U.S. Army’s Targets Management Office (TMO), part of the Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI).

EADS North America is a subcontractor to Applied Geo Technologies Inc, under contract to the TMO to provide and coordinate target drone services. Task orders under that master contract include ongoing presentation services using EADS’ DT-35 target drones and a single Robonic MC2555LLR launcher system.

“This follow-on delivery to EADS North America is an important milestone. We have an extended history of supporting the EADS DT family of systems and will be optimising this new pneumatic launcher to facilitate enhanced DT-35 presentations in parallel to retaining a fully flexible operational capability for the end user. Existing launch operations for the TMO have repeatedly demonstrated the outstanding reliability, durability, responsiveness and tailorability of the Robonic launcher solution,” says Robonic managing director Juha Moisio.

Earlier this year Robonic delivered two launchers to the Finnish Defence Forces. That delivery consolidated their entire unmanned air systems launch capability, covering both unmanned aircraft and target drones, on Robonic hardware.

***

Robonic Ltd Oy, based in Tampere, Finland, is a Sagem (Safran group) owned engineering company that operates as the premier unmanned air system launcher manufacturer in Europe. Robonic’s track record of pneumatic launching technology spans over three decades. The
company also operates a dedicated unmanned air vehicle flight test centre in Lapland at Kemijarvi, Finland.

More information: www.robonic.fi

EADS North America is the North American operation of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services. As a leader in all sectors of defense and homeland security, EADS North America and its parent company, EADS, contribute over $11 billion to the U.S. economy annually and support more than 200,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers and services. Operating in 17 states, EADS North America offers a broad array of advanced solutions to its customers in the commercial, homeland security, aerospace and defense markets.

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Alabama Remains Supportive of EADS North America

Governor Bob Riley (R-AL) made a speech yesterday to the Economic Development Association of Alabama at which he discussed upcoming industries moving to Alabama. He stressed his administration’s continuing efforts to move large manufacturing facilities to the state. Riley will leave office this year due to term limits.

He is hoping that EADS North America will win the KC-X contract before he does go as one of the key industrial developments for the state. Now Riley is always going to be positive about this effort right up to the time a winner is announced but it does illustrate how well EADS has built relations with leadership in Southern states that have benefited from their investment.

Riley has seen some successes with the building of a Hyundai assembly plant in the state and the ongoing construction of a steel mill by ThyssenKrupp which will open in the near future.

EADS North America Turns in Proposal Today

EADS North America, the American subsidiary of EADS (EADS:P), turned in their proposal for the KC-X aerial tanker today to the U.S. Air Force. This represents their second attempt to win the program and the Air Force’s third try.

EADS North America will base their program on a modified Airbus A330 transport aircraft. As with the previous attempt in 2008 they will assemble the aircraft at a facility in Mobile, AL. Then they will receive the necessary modifications to meet the U.S. requirements. Airbus will also assemble all of their A330 transports at this new facility if EADS does win the contract when it is awarded in November.

Boeing (BA) will also turn in their proposal by tomorrow. A third contended, U.S. Aerospace, has committed to submit a proposal by Friday if the Air Force does not grant their extension request.

EADS Ups Commitment to Alabama

In a sign that they are ramping up work on their bid for the new KC-X aerial tanker program EADS (EADS:P) announced that they are moving their proposal preparation team to new offices in Mobile, AL. If the European defense giant does win the contract they will assemble the A330 aircraft at that city and then apply the specific military modifications there or at another facility.

Reportedly EADS will concentrate about 100 workers in Mobile. They are currently based in Arlington, VA where the EADS North America headquarters is and Melbourne, FL. The Melbourne site was most likely established when EADS was working with Northorp Grumman (NOC) on their last attempt in 2008. Northrop has an aircraft modification facility there used to support the E-8 JSTARS program.

The Defense Department and Air Force expect to received proposals in July and award in the Fall. The Boeing (BA) team and their “NewGen Tanker is considered the only other potential offer.

Good Summary Of The KC-X Situation

The Kansas City Star has this lengthy article that describes the whole situation and explains how we got where we are with the KC-X tanker RFP. The article by Cleon Rickle may be found here. Key takeaways are:

“”I am confident Boeing can build the best plane for the Air Force, no matter the competition,” said U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts,of Kansas. “However, I urge the Department of Defense to run a fair competition and avoid coddling EADS to the detriment of American warfighters who have waited eight years for this contest to end and decades for a new tanker.”

“We will offer a modern, more capable tanker in response to the Defense Department’s decision to encourage competition for this major taxpayer investment,” said EADS North America chairman Ralph Crosby, Jr. “Our KC-45 is the only real, flying, low-risk solution that today meets the demanding Air Force air refueling requirements and is actually in production now. ”

EADS North America adds former U.S. Air Force General to Board

Retired Air Force General Arthur Lichte was named to EADS North America’s board. DefenseNews writes that the former head of the Air Mobility Command (AMC) will join EADS (EADS:P) American subsidiary’s board soon.

The AMC commands the Air Force’s tanker assets and having Gen Lichte will aid the company in preparing not only their proposal but the battlefield as he will certainly carry weight with government officials and Congress.

Washington State’s Senators Questioning Air Force Moves

The two Democratic Senators from Washington state, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, are raising questions about some recent changes to the KC-X RFP that in their eyes favor EADS North AmericaForexyard.com is reporting that three changes were announced last week that included how the encryption material or “COMSEC” would be treated as well as a clause allowing duty free import of aircraft components.

These two additions especially have attracted the attention of Boeing (BA) supporters as in their view they make it easier for a non-U.S. company to bid.  The Air Force is saying the COMSEC change clarifies how all contracts will treat this important security matter.  Obviously COMSEC material is tightly controlled doubly so when it comes to handling by non-U.S. personnel.

As the contract goes through its process sniping and criticism of every move, change or event will happen from either side’s supporters.  This contract is so large and so important to the two companies that things like this should be expected.

New Website From EADS North America Stresses A330 Availability

EADS North America has set up a new website, http://www.kc45now.com/index/, that stresses the “Tomorrow’s tanker, ready today” aspect of their program. This is following up on their plan to stress the availability of their aircraft as compared to the newer Boeing (BA) “NewGen” tanker that while is is based on the 767 integrates some 787 avionics into it. This might require some development time.

The A330 is already in production for Italy and the U.K. and will, technically, only require the necessary U.S. Air Force specific equipment integrated onto it.

EADS’ Press Release On Tanker Bid

EADS North America released this press release today relative to their decision to bid on the KC-X contract.

EADS North America Intends to Submit Proposal for U.S. Air Force Tanker

ARLINGTON, VA — (Marketwire) — 04/20/10 — EADS North America announced today that it intends to submit a proposal on July 9, 2010 for the U.S. Air Force’s tanker modernization program and will offer the KC-45 — the most capable, American-built solution that is flown, proven and in production now.

EADS North America is progressing in discussions with potential U.S. partners to build a winning team in order to provide the most capable, best value solution to the Air Force.

The KC-45 is the only aircraft flying today that meets the U.S. Air Force’s tanker requirements as outlined in its KC-X Request for Proposal (RFP). The KC-45 builds on the EADS-based tanker that was previously selected in 2008 by the Department of Defense and that has won the last five consecutive tanker competitions worldwide.

“We will offer a modern, more capable tanker in response to the Defense Department’s decision to encourage competition for this major taxpayer investment,” said EADS North America Chairman Ralph D. Crosby, Jr. “Our KC-45 is the only real, flying, low-risk solution that today meets the demanding Air Force air refueling requirements and is actually in production now. That fact is critical because our warfighters deserve a true best value solution.”

EADS North America will build and modify the KC-45, along with A330 commercial freighters, at an EADS North America/Airbus production facility to be constructed in Mobile, Alabama. The KC-45 program and aircraft production/modification center will create and support tens of thousands of high-value American jobs while making a long-term investment in the nation’s economy at a time when other aerospace companies are outsourcing production overseas.

“This tanker competition is all about the warfighter and the aircraft that most successfully meets their requirements. The KC-45 offers what the Air Force needs today: a modern military tanker that is in production now with deliveries beginning this year,” said Sean O’Keefe, EADS North America Chief Executive Officer. “Not only does the KC-45 offer the best value and a huge capability advantage over the competition, it also will support tens of thousands of jobs across America by expanding our nation’s industrial aerospace capacity.”

The KC-45 is the U.S. military version of the proven A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT). To date 28 aircraft have been ordered by four U.S. allies. The MRTT has transferred more than 265,000 lbs. of fuel to a range of military aircraft — from F-16 and F/A-18 fighters to the E-3 AWACS — using the same refueling systems offered on the KC-45.

“Our aircraft has demonstrated its unparalleled capability by refueling a variety of military aircraft utilizing both boom and hose and drogue systems, as well as by operating in the receiving position. That’s a statement our competition can’t make,” said Crosby.

The Royal Australian Air Force will receive the first A330 MRTTs later this year. Additional aircraft are in production or undergoing mission-equipment outfitting for the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“We’re progressing forward in discussions to expand the ranks of our nearly 200 current U.S. suppliers, some of which are joining us for today’s announcement,” continued O’Keefe.

At the heart of the KC-45 is the most capable aerial refueling system operating today. The aircraft’s fly-by-wire Aerial Refueling Boom System (ARBS) has a demonstrated fuel offload rate of 1,200 U.S. gallons per minute — the only system which meets the U.S. Air Force’s requirements without further modification. The system’s proven all-electric fly-by-wire technology ensures enhanced controllability and safety that greatly aids the boom operator and receiver aircraft’s pilot.

The KC-45 also carries an all-digital hose and drogue system for probe-equipped aircraft. The under-wing refueling pods are the most modern in service today, with the capability to deliver up to 420 gallons of fuel per minute through 90-ft.-long hoses at refueling speeds from 180 to 325 knots. The KC-45 will also feature a modern fuselage refueling unit, common with that of allied MRTT users such as the United Kingdom.

About EADS North America
EADS North America is the North American operation of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services. As a leader in all sectors of defense and homeland security, EADS North America and its parent company, EADS, contribute over $11 billion to the U.S. economy annually and support more than 200,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers and services. Operating in 17 states, EADS North America offers a broad array of advanced solutions to its customers in the commercial, homeland security, aerospace and defense markets.

EADS NA Struggling To Find U.S. Partner

It seems that EADS North America the subsidiary of the EADS (EADS:P) is searching for a U.S. company to partner with them on the KC-X tanker contract. Reports are that L-3 Communications (LLL) had been the prime target for this role but now they are rethinking that role.

EADS had planned to be a sub-contractor to Northrop Grumman (NOC) providing A330 aircraft that would then be militarized by Northrop. Now they are planning on being the prime contractor with a U.S. company to aid them. The roles are different enough that it will put pressure on EADS to prepare most of the proposal themselves as well as provide most of the contract management. With their history so far in the U.S. that might be a bit too much for them.

EADS To Consider Extension

EADS North America released a statement last night about the sixty day extension granted for KC-X proposals. They stated:

“Since the Department of Defense indicated their interest in EADS’ participation as prime contractor in the KC-X tanker competition, the company has carefully assessed the many requirements necessary to participate. We have firmly indicated that a 90-day extension would be the minimum time necessary to prepare a responsible proposal for this $40 billion program. We will consider the Department’s decision to offer a 60-day extension.”

This seems to indicate that EADS may still have given themselves an option not to participate by claiming the need for ninety days vice sixty.

Reports of Other Bidders for KC-X Emerge?

Over the weekend it was reported that the Russian state owned aircraft company, United Aircraft, might be interested in bidding on the KC-X proposal. With Northrop now planning on not participating with EADS only Boeing was left as a confirmed bidder. Russia was about the only other country that had the capability to submit a proposal as they have already made tankers for themselves, India and other users. The thought though of Il-76 based tankers fueling F-22 is sort of hard to imagine. Documents provided to the Seattle Times show that United Aircraft would team with a World Aviation Maintenance to form a new company to bid. The proposal would be based on the Il-96 airliner rather then the older transport tanker already in service.

At the same time there are reports that EADS may submit a bid with themselves as the prime. Earlier this month the company said that it was not confident of being able to do this. EADS-North America could certainly be used as a prime contractor. The time needed for the company to prepare a proposal of this magnitude is why there is talk of extending the deadline three months.

It would be good for the U.S. Defense Department and Air Force to have some form of competition in the latest attempt to award this contract. Whether the Russian or EADS based bids would be viable is another matter. It is going to be difficult though to award what amounts to a sole-source contract with the mood in Congress of many Northrop and EADS supporters.

EADS-NA Says Not Comfortable Priming KC-X Contract

Aviation Week is reporting that EADS-North America felt it needed an partner on the KC-X contract as it was not comfortable being the prime for such a large effort. While EADS has experienced some decent growth in the U.S. it still has a fairly lean organization.

The company was confident that they could provide to Northrop the basic airframes on cost and schedule. Northrop would have then been responsible for the necessary military modifications. EADS would have had to find a partner in General Dynamics, Raytheon or Lockheed Martin. There would be few large contractors available in the U.S. with the past experience to support a contract of this size.

Raytheon, PlantCML Conduct Joint Civil Communications Open Architecture Demonstration

March 9, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Raytheon, Syndicated Industry News 
Raytheon, PlantCML Conduct Joint Civil Communications Open Architecture Demonstration
March 9, 2010

Live demonstrations available on demand at IWCE Booth #5134

MARLBOROUGH, Mass., -- Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) and PlantCML, an EADS North America company, will conduct joint demonstrations of APCO Project 25 (P25) Inter-RF Sub-System Interface at the International Wireless Communication Expo in Las Vegas, March 10-12, 2010.

IWCE attendees will be able to witness production versions of Raytheon P25net and PlantCML's COR (P25) radio systems communicating during the first public appearance of Raytheon's Mobile Civil Communications Solutions vehicle.

"The open standards approach promotes competition, drives down costs and gives our customers low-risk procurement flexibility," said Bill Iannacci, director of civil communications, Raytheon Network Centric Systems. "It also creates the building blocks for nationwide standards-based interoperability, meeting the needs of the public safety community for daily operations and post catastrophe response."

"The P25 public safety radio communications standards were established to ensure communications interoperability for first responders at the scene of an emergency or disaster situation," said Steve Shanck, vice president and general manager of PlantCML Land Mobile Radio. "These interoperability demonstrations at IWCE showcase our joint commitment to facilitating the introduction of P25-standard equipment at the local, state and national levels."

PlantCML®, an EADS North America Company, is a pioneer and trusted leader in mission critical communications. PlantCML provides key technologies for public safety, federal and corporate markets. Their full-circle security and communications portfolio includes 9-1-1 call center CTI applications for call processing, CAD, mapping and information management, as well as managed services, notification solutions and services, and P25 Land Mobile Radio networks. The company is headquartered in Temecula, Calif.

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