Wow, what a news! The Boeing monopoly for US military planes is finally broken.
The U.S. Air Force announced its selection of the Airbus KC-45A Tanker, culminating a multi-year evaluation. The programme award calls for 179 aircraft with an estimated contract value of US$ 40 billion. The initial KC-45A contract for Northrop Grumman covers four System Design and Development aircraft and is valued at US$ 1.5 billion.
Louis Gallois, CEO of EADS, stated: â€œWe have committed our energies to this important U.S. Air Force programme and to our team mate Northrop Grumman. Selecting a tanker based on the A330 MRTT will provide the U.S. Air Force with the most modern and capable tanker aircraft available today.â€
Tom Enders, President and CEO of Airbus said: â€œNorthrop Grumman and the U.S. Air Force can count on the full resources of Airbus to support the KC-45A tankerâ€™s production and delivery. All four System Design and Development aircraft are already in production. Preparatory work is now underway for our commitment to co-locate the final assembly of the tankers and A330 civilian freighter aircraft at Mobile, Alabama, creating the first new large commercial aircraft assembly facility in the U.S. in over 40 years.â€
The KC-45A Tanker is based on the EADS Airbus A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport). Its airframe is derived from the popular Airbus A330 jetliner produced by EADSâ€™ Airbus Division, of which more than 880 have been ordered worldwide in passenger and freighter configurations. The Military Transport Aircraft Division (MTAD) is responsible within the EADS Group for all military derivative programmes based on Airbus platforms, including tankers.
The KC-45A Tanker assembly will employ 25,000 workers at 230 U.S. companies. The KC-45A’s refueling systems will be built at new facilities in Bridgeport, W.Va., and delivered to the KC-45A Production Center for aircraft integration.
The KC-45A will be built by a team led by Northrop Grumman, and includes primary subcontractor EADS North America and General Electric Aviation, Sargent Fletcher, Honeywell, Parker, AAR Cargo Systems, Telephonics and Knight Aerospace.
Compared to the Boeing KC-135 (based on the 707), the EADS KC-45 (based on the A330) has 25% more fuel capacity, much higher payloads and its General Electric CF6-80E1A4B engines feature 3 times more thrust.
Source: Airbus, Northrop Grumman