Ah, the “Unforeseen” Dice Roll

Rand released on March 7 a 26-page summary of its nearly two-year-long KC-135 tanker recapitalization Analysis of Alternatives. (The entire AOA measures 16 volumes and 1,900 pages.) As Michael Kennedy, a principle author, told the House Armed Services Committee last week, the analysis concludes the best alternative would be a new “commercial derivative” tanker in the medium to large range. As to the when, the AOA offers varying options and cost suppositions for buying new, modified aircraft now or later. It caveats any overall cost benefit from delaying recapitalization with warnings about the potential for “unforeseen technical difficulties” arising from extended operation of the nearly 50-year old KC-135 fleet. The AOA says, “A fleet of this age and size is unprecedented in aviation history.”