The Pentagon has cleared the Air Force to pursue a “traditional competitive acquisition” tanker replacement effort, says Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne. The service expects to issue a request for information by the end of April, followed by a draft request for proposal this fall and a final RFP in January 2007. A contract award could be made in summer 2007. There are two likely competitors: Boeing or the Northrop Grumman-EADS team. However, even with Northrop fronting, the presence of the European EADS does not sit well with certain lawmakers, including Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.