With only four days remaining until the due date for proposals to supply the Air Force’s KC-X tanker, there are reports that a third industry team has stepped forward and indicated its intent to bid for the multi-billion-dollar procurement contract. According to press accounts, US Aerospace, a small US company, is partnering with Ukrainian aircraft maker Antonov to offer a tanker based on the latter’s massive An-124 airlifter. The new team would go up against the two aerospace giants already in the fray: Boeing and EADS. Boeing is putting forward its 767-based NewGen Tanker, while EADS is offering an A330-based tanker platform. An entry at Flight Global’s DEW Line blog indicated that the US Aerospace-Antonov team was still assembling its complete list of suppliers, including someone to provide an aerial refueling boom. Meanwhile, Reuters news wire service reported July 2 that US Aerospace has asked the Pentagon for a 60-day extension to turn in its bid. (See also AFP report.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.