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I don't get it.  A 1980s vintage airframe, already developed and paid for by Boeing, is going to cost Uncle Sam $4.9 Billion????

Tanker project could cost more than $4.9B.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE -- The cost to develop a new Air Force refueling tanker is expected to exceed a $4.9 billion spending cap, but taxpayers won't be on the hook for the extra costs, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base manages the program.

The GAO report released this week also found the flight test schedule for the KC-46 aerial refueling tanker was a "substantive concern" for the aircraft that is a top Air Force acquisition priority.

The service branch has a $52 billion fixed-price contract to buy an initial 179 KC-46 tankers from Chicago-based Boeing Co. through 2027.

The KC-46, a military tanker version of the commercial Boeing 767 passenger airliner, will replace many aging KC-135 Stratotanker refuelers, the last of which joined the fleet in 1965.

The GAO reported both the government and Boeing were concerned development costs would exceed what's budgeted. The contractor has estimated the cost overrun will reach $266 million while the Department of Defense has pegged the additional expense at $717 million, according to Michael J. Sullivan, GAO director of the acquisition and sourcing management team.

The KC-135 is based on the most succesful jet airframe of all time, and in addition to that, Boeing has a longstanding "modernization" program that essentially restores the vintage birds back to factory-new standard.  It's one of the 3 or 4 birds that I expect to see make 100 years in the sky one day.

But I guess after the EADS/Airbus fiasco (thanks to John McCain), somebody wasn't making enough money and needed to come up with something new.

It's an old-technology Boeing 767 with gas tanks in it, ferchrissake!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Meh, they have to pay for the 787 debacle (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    * somehow * - right?

    This seems like as good of a plan as any . ..

  •  This is not necessarily so (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, virginislandsguy
    It's an old-technology Boeing 767 with gas tanks in it, ferchrissake!

    Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?

    by jsfox on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 10:03:45 AM PST

  •  Most Succesful Airframe? (0+ / 0-)

    Uh, that would be the DC-3.  If you want to go jet it's the 737.  The 737 will likely overtake the DC-3 at some point, BUT when the last 737 is retired I bet there are still DC-3s flying around.

    There were about 1800 707s and military derivatives like KC135s built.  To date there have been about 7500 737s built with about another 3000 on order.

    The KC135 is long in the tooth.  They spend a lot of time in maintenance and if you look at one up close they have all kinds of doublers and round head rivets holding a very old airframe together.

    The KC-46 is NOT an old technology.  It will have a state of the art flight deck and fly by wire boom operated from the flight deck.  In the 135 you lay on your tummy in the belly of the plane driving the boom.  The 767 airframe is proven.  The freight companies are still taking deliveries of new 767 freighters.  They love them.

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