Often overlooked in the KC-X tanker debate are the implications for US military personnel if the winning tanker contractor does not deliver the new KC-X tankers to the Air Force on time or with advertised performance, said Ralph Crosby, EADS North America’s board chairman. Briefing reporters Tuesday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference, Crosby asserted that the perception is false that the firm-fixed price contracting arrangement planned for KC-X places the risk burden predominantly on the contractor. Such thinking “leaves out the issue” of measuring the “certainty that the customer is going to get what he says he needs,” he said. Crosby claimed his company’s KC-45 tanker is “lower” risk in this regard than rival Boeing’s KC-767-based model. As an example of this, Crosby noted, that EADS last week successfully passed fuel from one of its A330-based tankers—the same basic model being offered to the Air Force—to another one of its A330 tankers at the rate of 1,200 gallons per minute, the Air Force’s flow-rate requirement. That showed that “what we have committed to do is being demonstrated well before the competitive outcome,” he said.
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.