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Mar-02-2008 22:01printcomments

Boeing Issues Statement on U.S. Air Force Aerial Refueling Tanker Decision

The selection of Southern California based Northrop Grumman and European Aeronautic Defence and Space Corporation, the manufacturer of Airbus airplanes, was a surprise to members of the aviation industry.

The KC-767 Advanced Tanker
The KC-767 Advanced Tanker
Image courtesy: boeing.com

(ST. LOUIS, Mo.) - A national aviation group that has served as the backbone of the nation's military strength, learned this week that the federal government has decided to "outsource" a contract to build new military aircraft to France.

Boeing released the news this week, "We were just informed that our KC-767 Advanced Tanker proposal was not selected in the KC-135 Replacement Program known as KC-X."

The U.S. Air Force decision to award Northrop Grumman Corporation and a European partner the $35 billion contract to build airborne refueling planes means fewer jobs for Boeing, which has already had their share of setbacks.

On October 10th, 2001, Boeing lost to its rival Lockheed Martin in the fierce competition for the multi-billion dollar Joint Strike Fighter contract. Boeing’s entry, the X-32, was rejected in favor of Lockheed’s X-35 entrant.

In more recent years Boeing has faced increasingly heavy competition from Airbus, which offers other similar aircraft models and the latest fly-by-wire technology. From the 1970s Airbus has increased its lineup of aircraft to the point where they can now offer an aircraft in almost every class Boeing does.

Indeed, Airbus is now competing in markets that Boeing once had a monopoly over. After several decades of numerous successes, Boeing lost ground to Airbus and subsequently lost its position as market leader in 2003.

Multiple Boeing projects were pursued and then canceled. Among those projects is the Sonic Cruiser. The Boeing Sonic Cruiser was launched in 2001 along with a new advertising campaign.


In September 2001, Boeing moved its corporate headquarters from Seattle to Chicago. They have been building Air Force refueling tankers for half a century. Most believed they would be the company to supply the new contract.

Their statement continued, "Obviously we are very disappointed with this outcome. We believe that we offered the Air Force the best value and lowest risk tanker for its mission."

The selection of Southern California based Northrop Grumman and European Aeronautic Defence and Space Corporation, the manufacturer of Airbus airplanes, was a surprise to members of the aviation industry.

Air Force officials said the larger size of the Northrop-EADS aircraft was a better option.

They say their next step is to request and receive a debrief from the Air Force. "Once we have reviewed the details behind the award, we will make a decision concerning our possible options, keeping in mind at all times the impact to the warfighter and our nation."

The Boeing Company says they would like to thank the many people who helped in this campaign. "We have received tremendous support from our suppliers, elected federal/state/local leaders, unions, community groups, and the 160,738 men and women who work for Boeing," their statement concluded.




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