Rivals Boeing and Northrop Grumman-EADS team continue to keep the world well apprised of their accomplishments in the realm of aerial refueling as they, like we, count the seconds down until the Air Force announces the winner of the KC-X tanker contest. Boeing on Jan. 29 announced that it successfully completed the first-ever nighttime refueling mission with its KC-767 design. The flight test featured the KC-767 that Boeing is preparing for delivery this year to Japan passing fuel from its centerline boom to an F-15E fighter in the skies over Missouri. One day prior, EADS said the first A330 tanker that it is building for Australia successfully deployed the hoses and drogues from its wingtip refueling pods. Further, the tanker’s centerline boom, which currently is being tested on a surrogate platform, demonstrated the ability to service large-sized and multi-mission aircraft, the company said. The A330 is the basis for the KC-30, the platform that the Northrop/EADS team is offering USAF to be the KC-X. The Air Force’s decision is expected later this month.
Adm. Christopher Grady, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs and head of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, is pushing a “portfolio” approach to requirements and wants his position to have “more teeth” so he can enforce it.