Sooner Rather than Later:

It is possible that the Air Force may tip its hand early on the tanker competition simply by identifying in next month’s final request for proposals just how much cargo it wants the replacement aerial refueler to carry. At least that’s the usually knowledgeable opinion of Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute. In a new issue brief, Thompson says, “The wild card is the cargo-carrying capacity, because if the request for proposals sets a modest goal, that will tend to favor the [Boeing] 767, and if it sets an ambitious goal that will tend to favor the [Northrop Grumman-EADS] A330.” USAF expects in July 2007 to make a decision on which contractor would provide the first 179 aircraft of a program that could, in the end, run to 500 or so tankers.