Less is More?:

Countering claims by KC-X rival Northrop Grumman-EADS North America that “bigger is better,” a Boeing official reminded reporters on Friday that USAF tankers rarely fly with a full load of fuel and fly with considerably less than a full load from high-altitude runways on hot days, so fuel capacity isn’t a big discriminator in the competition for a new aerial tanker. Boeing claims that its KC-767 is more fuel-efficient than the much-larger KC-30, if only because it weighs far less. The Boeing official, who asked to remain nameless, also discounted the cargo-hauling aspect of the competition, saying that USAF only flies tankers as cargo planes one percent of the time, and the KC-767 can carry 19 pallets, one more than the C-17. Boeing considered offering a tanker variant of its 777 airliner, but decided there was no competitive payback for the extra size. The official said a KC-777, or something like it, may be a player in the KC-Y competition circa 2020, because USAF will have to replace its larger KC-10s in that procurement. Air Mobility Command made a case earlier this year for ensuring the KC-X can perform in both refueling and cargo-hauling capacities.