Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced today that he is handing the Air Force tanker contracting effort (the KC-X) back to the Air Force.
As you recall, this is a $35 billion dollar competition between Boeing and Northrop Grumman (who is teamed with Airbus) to build some 179 aircraft.
Everyone and his brother has had a hand in this pie. I am surprised that some firm out of Johnstown, PA, isn't teamed up with someone to produce the next Air Force Tanker.
The reason this is important is that the Air Force and the Navy (and the Marine Corps to a lesser extent) depend upon aerial tankers to conduct long range and long endurance missions. And, this impacts the Army as well, in that strategic lift supports the Army.
The loss of this capability would have a major impact on our military capabilities, which involve projecting power far from our shores.
But, the other side of the coin is the potential loss of aircrews if the current KC-135 force starts falling out of the sky.
Hat tip to Neal Crossland for pointing this out to me.
Regards — Cliff