Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Boeing KC-X Postmortem

From Aviation Week:
Sources familiar with the proposals say Boeing foundered in all five evaluation criteria outlined by the U.S. Air Force for the competition: Mission capability (including meeting system requirements and program management), proposal risk, past performance, cost and an assessment of each refueler's performance in various classified operational scenarios.

Boeing chose the smallest 767 for its baseline design based on a belief that the Air Force wanted a solution as close as possible to its existing aircraft, the Boeing 707-based KC-135. Boeing thought the 767 provided flexibility for basing at smaller airfields.

The Air Force's request for proposals (RFP), however, opened the door to cargo and passenger carriage, a parameter Boeing downplayed. The Northrop/EADS A330's longer range and larger cargo and passenger capacity was attractive to the Air Force in light of its fourth key performance parameter, airlift capability. That is an indication of the shift from short-haul missions suppporting the war on terrorism to overflying vast expanses in the Pacific (see p. 24). One analyst notes that the Air Force was shopping for a Ford Explorer, but wound up selecting a Land Rover for the same price.

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