UPDATED: EADS Refueling Video
The EADS tanker boasts substantially lower costs per gallon of fuel delivered because its planes can offload fuel at a higher rate and can carry more fuel than Boeing's planes can.
Those were the basic arguments offered by EADS NA board chairman Ralph Crosby this morning at the Air Force Association’s annual conference. Crosby also said his company could adjust its bid price at any point, just as Boeing has said it might do.
EADS also boasted that its tanker refueled another tanker at the full rate of 1,200 gallons per minute in a recent exercise. “Our tanker has proven that it can refuel other aircraft at a rate of 1,200 gallons per minute, which is a critical requirement the Air Force has set forth for its tanker,” Crosby told reporters this morning.
The A330 tankers were completing certification flights for the Royal Australian Air Force. Crosby said the Australian planes are 95 percent common with the planes that it would build in Alabama if it wins the tanker contract. And that shows how low the risk levels are for an EADS-built tanker since his company has already built planes and demonstrated its abilities to do what the U.S. wants its new tankers to do.
One question Crosby did not answer was how long it would take to build its manufacturing plant in Alabama and what level of risk that entailed, in contrast to Boeing which has a 767 plant in place, though few planes are being built on it. That information, he said, was competition sensitive. He did point out that Boeing bore a $2 billion cost burden in the last tanker competition. Boeing, of course, argues its plane, being smaller, will cost much less in life cycle costs because it won't require new hangars, longer runways and other military construction costs.