Will Focus Its Efforts On Securing KC-X Contract
an interesting news day when a company both confirms it was part of
a particular program, then subsequently announces it will withdraw
from that effort. EADS North America announced Wednesday it will
not participate in a US Air Force competition to select a new
aircraft for use as the next-generation US presidential
As ANN reported, news surfaced last week the
US Air Force quietly asked for bids in 2007 to provide the next Air
Force One from not only Boeing -- which has provided all
presidential transport planes, dating back to the 1950s -- but
also from European planemaker Airbus.
The news was met with some grumbling from traditionalists,
who argue the US president should only travel on an American
Countering those arguments was the fact the 747 is no longer the
biggest commercial aircraft -- that title belongs to the current
Airbus A380-800, and even larger variants are planned.
Foreign-sourced aircraft have also made inroads into US defense
spending, most notably with the AgustaWestland-sourced VH-71
presidential helicopter replacement.
On Wednesday, EADS North America confirmed the Air Force did
submit requests for information for a number of Airbus planes.
"In 2007 at the USAF’s request, EADS North America provided
technical information and answered questions regarding several
Airbus widebody commercial aircraft as the service conducted its
Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) to recapitalize the current fleet of
presidential aircraft," the company said.
"EADS North America’s strategy for growth in the US is
based on bringing value to the US warfighter; making industrial
investments in the US and insourcing high technology defense and
aerospace jobs. After careful review, we've determined that
participation in the AF-1 program will not help us meet these
Instead, EADS will focus its efforts on securing the KC-X air
tanker competition... which it in fact won last year, though that decision was subsequently
"Though the company will not respond to this RFI, we remain
focused on once again winning the KC-X competition with Northrop
Grumman, delivering the UH-72A LUH to the US Army and meeting the
needs of our US defense and homeland security customers," EADS
said. "We reiterate our strong commitment to the US Department of
Defense and to supporting the warfighter with our products and
The EADS announcement presumably clears the way for Boeing to
win the next AF-1 bid. It's not clear yet which aircraft Boeing
will offer to replace the two 19-year-old 747-200Bs that currently
serve at the pleasure of the president. The upcoming 747-8
Intercontinental would be a natural choice... though the Air
Force's desire for a proven platform could mean the Air Force will
opt for the older (and, for the moment, out of production) 747-400,
or even the smaller 777 twinjet.