Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz wants to make sure that the service’s future acquisition programs benefit from the lessons that officials have drawn from the KC-X tanker procurement process. “We learned tough lessons in the recent KC-X air refueling tanker procurement competition, so you can expect that the recent awarding of the KC-46A contract will serve as the standard for open, fair, and disciplined acquisition as we move forward,” Schwartz said Wednesday at an industry conference in Arlington, Va. The Air Force late last month chose Boeing’s 767-based tanker, now called the KC-46A, over EADS North America’s A330-based KC-45 to replace its oldest KC-135s. This is the Air Force’s third attempt in about a decade to move forward with a new tanker. EADS officials have several days yet to decide whether to challenge the Air Force’s decision or let it stand. “I urge that we respect the decision and allow this important procurement to proceed unimpeded,” said Schwartz. (Schwartz speech full text)
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.