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USAF Announces Tanker Contract

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PRESS RELEASE -- Secretary of the Air Force, Office of Public Affairs


Release No. 040208

February 29,2008


Air Force Announces Tanker Contract


WASHINGTON - Secretary of the Air Force, Michael W. Wynne, and Vice Chief of

Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Duncan J. McNab, announced the selection of

Northrop Grumman Corporation, headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif., as the

winner of the KC-X competition for development and procurement of up to 179

tanker aircraft for approximately $35 billion.


The initial contract for the newly-named KC-45 is for the system design and

development of four test aircraft for $1.5B. This contract also includes

five production options targeted for 64 aircraft at $10.6B.


"The tanker is our number one procurement priority right now. 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," said General McNab.


"The tanker is the number one procurement priority for us right now. 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," said

General McNab.


The KC-45A will provide significantly greater air refueling capabilities

than the current fleet of Eisenhower-era KC-135s 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

the 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 will also have

connections for wing pods. When wing pods are installed, it can refuel two

probe-equipped aircraft, such as Navy and many allied aircraft, at the same

time. It can even be refueled in flight by other tankers.


The KC-45A will also have defensive systems that allow it to go into

dangerous environments that we currently have to avoid. It will also

supplement our 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.


The Air Force followed a carefully structured process, designed to provide

transparency, maintain integrity and promote fair competition. The Air Force

met with offerors on numerous occasions to gain a thorough understanding of

their proposals and provide feedback on their strengths and weaknesses. The

Air Force 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 was comprised of experts covering a broad spectrum of

specialties from acquisition to operations and was hand-picked from across

the USAF and other government agencies.


As part of the process, the Air Force will now provide a written notice to

both the selected and not-selected and offer to provide a de-brief on their

bid proposals. To maintain the integrity of that process, the Air Force will

be unable to provide additional information about the proposals and



"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," said Secretary Wynne. "Through these efforts we believe we will

provide a higher-value resource to the warfighter and the taxpayer."

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