The US Air Force (USAF) has announced the reopening of its USD35 billion KC-X competition to build 179 new aerial refuelling tankers.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates cancelled the previous tanker competition in 2008 after an industry protest led the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) to rule that the competition had not been conducted fairly.
Senior USAF and defence officials promised a fair competition that will be overseen by a new USAF acquisition team, adding that the acquisition process will be reviewed by independent assessment teams.
"We are, this time, going to try to be, and are being, very precise about what the offerers need to do to win," said Ashton Carter, the Pentagon's top acquisition official. "It will be crystal clear when a winner is picked why they won and the other offerer did not win."
Boeing, which protested its loss of the last tanker competition to the GAO in 2008, said on 24 September that it is not ready to say whether it will offer its KC-767 or an aerial refuelling version of its much larger 777 airliner. EADS and Northrop Grumman, which won the competition the last time, will offer the A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft (designated KC-45 by the partner companies for the USAF bid).
Link : USAF to reopen $35bn aerial refuelling tanker competition