Although USAF acquisition chief Sue Payton claimed that the service had worked closely with each offeror in the tanker contest to resolve questions and ambiguities, the service added a significant change in the final request for proposals, Boeing tanker VP Mark McGraw said in a teleconference with reporters Tuesday (see above). The change involved revising a model that pitted each tanker against a series of real-world scenarios. When Northrop Grumman’s KC-30 apparently couldn’t complete some of the missions—which would have given it “a zero” in those scenarios, McGraw charged—the Air Force adjusted the scenarios to allow the KC-30 to show better. Included among several tweaks to the model were adjustments that gave some overseas runways ramp space that doesn’t really exist and cutting in half the requirement for spacing between aircraft so more KC-30s could fit, McGraw said. The Air Force did not note the changes when the final RFP was released; Boeing had to “find them” on its own.
The Collaborative Combat Aircraft will be operational in the late 2020s, several years before the Next-Generation Air Dominance family of systems, Air Force officials told the House Armed Services tactical aviation panel. The CCAs will first be “shooters,” then electronic warfare platforms, then sensors, in that order, they added.