Lockheed Martin and Airbus announced recently that the two companies have signed a memorandum of agreement to “explore opportunities” to meet “growing demand” from U.S. defense customers for aerial refueling.
Offering the A330 MRTT, both companies said their agreement is intended to “address any identified capacity shortfall and to meet requirements for the next generation of tankers capable of operating in challenging environments. Companies said their agreement is intended to “address any identified capacity shortfall and to meet requirements for the next generation of tankers capable of operating in the challenging environments of future battlespace.”
Noteworthy Boeing has had its struggles delivering the KC-46 on a contract to replace 179 KC-135 tankers, about half the existing fleet of 400 of the older tankers. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon indicated that it may be interested in more refueling capacity than the Boeing contract is set to deliver. Officials met with potential suppliers to discuss acquiring refueling capacity on a fee-for-service basis and that the military would need 7,000 hours of such services annually, according to a draft requirements document.
Lockheed’s board chair and chief executive, Marillyn Hewson, said: Reliable and modernized aerial refueling is an essential capability for our customers to maintain their global reach and strategic advantage. By combining the innovation and expertise of Airbus and Lockheed Martin, we will be well-positioned to provide the United States Air Force with the advanced refueling solutions needed to meet 21st century security challenges.”
Airbus CEO Tom Enders added:“The U.S. Air Force deserves the best aerial-refueling technology and performance available under the sun and this great industry team, Lockheed Martin and Airbus, will offer exactly that.”
Photo credit: Royal Australian Air Force
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