The KC-46A is intended to replace the U.S. Air Force's aging fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers. (Boeing Co.)
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WASHINGTON — FlightSafety has won the contract to provide the training system for the US Air Force’s new tanker, the service announced today.
“FlightSafety will be awarded a $78,369,818 fixed-price-incentive firm and firm-fixed-price contract for engineering, manufacturing and development of the KC-46 Aircrew Training System, including delivery of courseware and simulator-based training systems,” the Air Force announced.
The contract comes with an initial obligation of $1 million, with the remaining amount to be incrementally funded. The first systems are expected to arrive in February 2016, with final delivery due by 2026.
“This is a vital step in the development of KC-46A,” Maj. Gen. John Thompson, program executive officer and program director for the KC-46, said in an Air Force press release. “We have reached an award that is the product of a disciplined, meticulous and transparent source selection and delivers real value for the warfighter.”
The fixed-price nature of the contract is in line with the program’s recent history. Prime contractor Boeing is signed to a contract which caps the government’s liability at $4.9 billion, requiring the company to cover any overruns.
“Everyone recognizes the need to get value for our money,” Thompson said in the release. “Strong competition clearly benefits the taxpayer and, I think, benefits our industry partners as well. Effectively managing costs and schedule puts everyone in a winning situation.”
The KC-46 has been identified as a key modernization program by Air Force officials. It aims to produce 179 new planes to replace the aging KC-135 tanker fleet, with 18 tankers delivered by 2017 and completion of production in 2027.
Bids for the aircrew training system (ATS), the primary training simulator for the Boeing-designed tanker, were first solicited in May 2012 with an award expected that August. Since then, the date had slipped first to December and then February.
“FlightSafety is pleased and proud to have been awarded the KC-46 Aircrew Training System contract,” Bruce Whitman, president & CEO, wrote in a statement. “FlightSafety has the experience and expertise required to provide KC-46 crews with the highest quality training system using our proven advanced technology training devices, visual systems, and highly effective courseware. All of us with FlightSafety are honored to support those who serve to protect our freedom at home and around the world.”
The company will design and manufacture “Weapon System, Boom Operator, and Part Task Trainers” at its 375,000-square-foot Oklahoma facility, built in 2011, according to the statement.
Four other companies — CAE, L-3, Lockheed Martin and Boeing — competed for the contract.
“Boeing was notified today by the U.S. Air Force we were not selected for the KC-46 Aircrew Training System contract award,” Alma Dayawon, Boeing spokeswoman, wrote in a statement. “We are disappointed with this decision, as we submitted a competitive, advantage-rich offering that would have been supported by our extensive training expertise and history of strong performance, and await debrief from the Air Force. Boeing remains committed to delivering 18 KC-46s by 2017.”
“We are disappointed we were not selected by the Air Force for the KC-46 ATS program,” Chris Stellwag, spokesman for CAE, said. “We made a competitive bid and we look forward to doing business with the Air Force and the other US services moving forward as they look to increase the amount of synthetic training that they do.”
“Lockheed Martin is disappointed that the U.S. Air Force has not selected us for the KC-46 Aircrew Training System contract,” Scott Lusk, Lockheed spokesman, wrote in a statement. “We believe we presented a highly competitive and affordable solution and will await the Air Force’s de-brief to gain insight into why we were not selected. At the same time, we remain fully committed to providing superior training for F-35, F-22, F-15, F16, C-5 and C-130 airmen, ensuring their mission readiness worldwide.”
A spokesperson for L-3 declined to comment.