WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) made the following statement after today’s announcement by the U.S. Air Force awarding the KC-X (now the KC-45A) tanker contract to Northrop Grumman.
“I welcome the announcement of the KC-45A contract award by the U.S. Air Force today, beginning the long-awaited process of replacing the KC-135 tanker. By the time the KC-135 is completely replaced, the aircraft will be 80 years old.
“Altus and Tinker Air Force bases will play a key role in operating, training and maintaining the KC-45A. The Air Force “Road Map” identified the 507th Air Refueling Wing and the Air Logistics Center at Tinker as future operations and maintenance locations for the KC-45A, while the 97th Air Mobility Wing at Altus Air Force Base will provide centralized training for the new tanker.”
The KC-45A, based on the Airbus A330 commercial airliner, will be critical to providing this nation’s vital air refueling capability. The capabilities of the KC-45A allow the tanker to operate in higher-threat areas, as well as conduct airlift operations. This contract will begin replacing almost 500 planes in the tanker fleet – a fleet that averages 46 years old. The first aircraft is expected to be delivered in 2013 and will take 10 to 15 years to complete procurement of up to 179 aircraft at an approximate cost of $35 billion.