Air Force Requests Proposals for Next Tanker Aircraft
By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez, USAF
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2007 Air Force leaders officially released a “request for proposals” yesterday for a replacement tanker aircraft.
The RFP is the official invitation to manufacturers to begin making offers to build a replacement for the Air Force's aging fleet of “Eisenhower-era” KC-135 Stratotankers, said Sue Payton, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition.
Tanker aircraft operate as “flying gas stations,” refueling other aircraft in the air.
"This is a major milestone in fair, open and transparent dialogue that we have been involved in since the request for information was sent out in April of 2006," Payton said. "We are confident it will allow us to fulfill the Air Force's No. 1 acquisition priority."
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley set replacing the KC-135 as the service’s top acquisition priority late in 2006. Other priorities include a new combat rescue helicopter, space-based early warning and communications satellites, the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet, and the next-generation long-range strike bomber.
Payton said she expects to have a tanker contract in place before the end of the year and that competition for the contract will be fair for all involved.
"The RFP has laid the groundwork for a fair and open competition that will ensure a thorough evaluation of any proposal we receive," she said. "We remain committed to a full and open competition. The KC-X is our No. 1 acquisition priority for the Air Force, and we will continue to conduct this competition in a very deliberate and open manner."
Payton said she expects the Air Force could see the first operational fleet of new tankers by 2013.
(Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez is assigned to Air Force Print News.)