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Boeing wins USAF tanker refleeting contract: In what could be the final chapter of a ten-year saga, the United States Air Force selected BOEING to replace 179 of the Air Force’s current fleet of 400 707-based aerial refueling tankers with a new tanker/transport known as the KC-46A. Boeing’s successful bid was built around a tanker based on the 767 commercial jetliner family, but other than saying the KC-46A will include “a digital flight deck featuring Boeing 787 Dreamliner electronic displays” neither the company nor the Air Force has released details of how the tanker will relate to the existing 767-200, -300, and -400 variants.
The contract calls for Boeing to design, develop, manufacture and deliver 18 initial combat-ready tankers by 2017. Assuming that the decision to select Boeing is not overturned by Congress, the company’s 767 line will be humming for many years to come.
Speaking for the losing bidder, EADS North America Chairman Ralph D. Crosby Jr. said: “This is certainly a disappointing turn of events, and we look forward to discussing with the Air Force how it arrived at this conclusion.” EADS, which offered an A330-200-based tanker, now has 20 days in which to file an appeal. In the most recent attempt to replace the tanker fleet, the USAF awarded the contract to the EADS/GRUMMAN team, but that decision was annulled following an appeal by Boeing.