The Secretary of the Air Force announced today that the United States Air Force will begin negotiations with the Boeing Corporation for the lease of 100 Boeing 767s which will be converted into aerial refueling tankers to replace the Air Force’s oldest KC-135 tankers. Earlier, the Air Force had considered the European Airbus consortium’s Airbus 330 as well.
“I’m very pleased by the Air Force’s selection of Boeing to provide these tankers,” Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said. “The economic impact for Washington state is tremendous. After the House Armed Services committee hearing, we pointed out to the Air Force that Boeing was clearly the only technically acceptable tanker available and that it was the only American tanker option. Their selection means concrete investment in American communities and American jobs.”
The decision was made after the Air Force’s Air Refueling Tanker Request For Information demonstrated that only Boeing’s 767 technology could meet their air refueling requirements. The competing Airbus 330 lacked tanker and air refueling experience, making their initial approach to the task a significant risk increase for the Air Force that had to be weighed against Boeing’s experience. The Air Force also discovered that the footprint of the Airbus 330 is 81 percent larger than that of the current refueling tankers (KC-135) and that the increase in size did not yield sufficient increases in air refueling efficiency.
Congressman Adam Smith noted that the contract award not only underscores Boeing’s role as the world's largest military aircraft manufacturer, but also recognizes the company’s commitment to innovation and transformation.