Tanker Contract Award Announced
Tanker Contract Award Announced
Washington D.C. -- (AFPN) March
29, 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 Northrop
Grumman as the winner of the KC-X competition for development and procurement of
up to 179 tanker aircraft for approximately $35 billion.
U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Robert Burgess.
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 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.
"It is the first step in our critical commitment to recapitalize our aging
fleet to move, supply and position assets anywhere. In this global Air Force
business, the critical element for air bridge, global Intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance and global strike is the tanker," he said.
Air Force Reserve crew chiefs
prepare to launch a KC-135R Stratotanker Jan. 29, 2008, from the 940th Air
Refueling Wing, Beale AFB, Calif. U.S. Air Force photo/MSgt. Ellen L. Hatfield.
Air Force officials have
announced Northrop Grumman as the winner of the KC-X competition for the
development and procurement of up to 179 KC-45 tanker aircraft to eventually
replace the Eisenhower-era KC-135s.
U.S. Air Force photo/MSgt. Ellen L. Hatfield
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
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.
"Today's announcement is the
culmination of years of tireless work and attention to detail by our
acquisition professionals and source selection team, who have been committed
to maintaining integrity, providing transparency and promoting a fair
competition for this critical aircraft program," Secretary Wynne said. "Through
these efforts, we believe we will provide a higher-value resource to the
warfighter and the taxpayer."
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