is the name of the United States Air Force
procure its next-generation aerial
tanker aircraft. This aircraft is intended to
some of the older Boeing KC-135
. The United
States Air Force
announced on 29 February 2008 that Northrop Grumman
was selected as the company who will build the new
tankers with their modified Airbus A330
design, to be designated the KC-45A
. This contract is for 179 new
tankers and would have been worth an estimated US$40 billion.
On 18 June 2008, the U.S. Government Accountability
sustained a protest by Boeing on the award of the
contract to Northrop Grumman and EADS. On 9 July 2008, the Defense
Secretary Robert Gates reopened the bidding process, but canceled
the current KC-X solicitation on 10 September 2008. In September
2009, the USAF began the first steps toward accepting a new set of
DoD posted a request
for proposal on 30 January 2007.
The U.S. Air Force's
main requirements are "fuel offload and range at least as great as
the KC-135", airlift capability, ability to take on fuel in flight,
and multi-point refueling capability.
Two manufacturers expressed interest in producing this aircraft:
In February 2007, the Seattle Times
commented on the
pre-final designs: "Northrop has been viewed as the underdog, with
a heavier, less fuel efficient aircraft. The Airbus tanker would
have a maximum fuel capacity of 200,000 pounds. Northrop spokesman
Randy Belote said Northrop's K-30 would tack on roughly 20 percent
in fuel capacity."
Both competitors submitted their tanker proposals before the 12
April 2007 deadline. The competitors submitted final revisions of
their proposals to the U.S. Air Force on 3 January 2008. On 29
February 2008, the DoD announced their choice of the Northrop
In December 2007, it was announced that this aircraft will be
designated the KC-45A
regardless of which design wins the competition. The DoD
anticipated that the KC-45A would start to enter service in
On 11 March 2008, Boeing filed a protest with the Government Accountability
(GAO) of the award of the contract to the Northrop
Grumman/EADS team. Boeing stated that there are certain aspects of
evaluation process that have given it
grounds to appeal. Their protest was upheld by the GAO on June 18
, who recommended
that the Air Force rebid the contract. On 9 July 2008, the Defense
Secretary Robert Gates put the contract for the KC-45 into an
"expedited recompetition" with Defense Undersecretary John Young in
charge of the selection process instead of the Air Force. A draft
of the revised RFP was provided to the contractors on 6 August 2008
for comments with the revised RFP to be finalized by mid-August.
Proposals would be due in October 2008 and selection was to be done
by the end of 2008. In mid-August, there was speculation that
Boeing was considering a "no bid" position.
On 10 September 2008, Defense Secretary Robert Gates canceled the
RFP. "Rather than hand the next Administration an incomplete and
possibly contested process, Secretary Gates decided that the best
course of action is to provide the next Administration with full
flexibility regarding the requirements, evaluation criteria, and
the appropriate allocation of defense budget to this mission," a
Pentagon release stated.
On 16 September 2009 Secretary Gates announced a renewed effort for
the KC-X program. The selection process will be under the Air Force
with a "robust oversight role" by the Office of the Secretary of
Defense to prevent a repeated failure. On September 24, 2009, the
USAF began the first steps to accept new bids, making efforts to
correct criticisms of the GAO from the last bid round, with a
clearer set of criteria, including reducing the total number of
requirements from 800 to 373 in an attempt to simplify the process.
However, the mandatory requirements increased from 37 to 373.
||A330 MRTT - KC-30
||KC-767 Advanced Tanker
(based on 767-200LRF)
||RR Trent 700 or
GE CF6-80 turbofans
|Pratt & Whitney PW4062
|Thrust (× 2)
||32 463L pallet
||19 463L pallets
|Maximum fuel capability
|Max. takeoff fuel load
||Mach 0.82 ( )
||Mach 0.80 ( )
||Mach 0.86 ( )
||Mach 0.86 ( )
|Max. takeoff weight
|Max. landing weight
Sources: Northrop Grumman KC-30, KC-30 brochure
, NorthropGrumman.com. KC-30 Specifications
Airbus A330, KC-767 Advanced Tanker, Boeing 767, Civil Aircraft,
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U.S. Air Force
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U.S. Air Force
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Multi-Role Tanker Transporter (MRTT), Europe