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More KC-46A woes....

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More KC-46A woes....

Old 16th Jan 2019, 11:25
  #701 (permalink)  
 
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Indeed, by that reasoning the A330 MRTT didn't meet any customer requirements until the national-specific features (comms, defensive aids etc) were added during development.

Also, not only does the A330 MRTT 'do more than pass gas to other aircraft', but it doesn't need to be reconfigured to do it either.
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 12:35
  #702 (permalink)  
 
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So the USAF wanted more than a simple refueler? Crazy..............

Bill Gunston, the famous aviation writer, used to opine that if Air Forces had been willing to accept 90% of the spec they'd have got a lot more aircraft, sooner and on budget... it's that last 10% where the people (who are only in their jobs for a couple of years before moving on) add the crazy bells and whistles to look good
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 13:11
  #703 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by LowObservable View Post
So, basically - saying that the A330 "doesn't meet USAF requirements" has nothing to do with the basic MRTT system, but has to do with add-ons such as OBIGGS, support for future comms roles &c, which are USAF-unique and would have been added during development.
That's exactly what LOTS of people have been saying for years. No existing tanker met all the requirements and meeting all the requirements required development. So the oft repeated mantra of "if only USAF had bought A330MRTTs they'd have had their tanker years earlier" is tosh. That is what I'm arguing against.
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 13:19
  #704 (permalink)  
 
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That's exactly what LOTS of people have been saying for years. No existing tanker met all the requirements and meeting all the requirements required development. So the oft repeated mantra of "if only USAF had bought A330MRTTs they'd have had their tanker years earlier" is tosh. That is what I'm arguing against.
There's 'development', and then there's development. No one can truly say what might have been, but given the nature and extent of the modifications that would have been needed to turn the MRTT into the KC-45A and given the track record of the MRTT since the KC-X contract was first awarded back in 2008 I don't think it is too much of a leap of fatih to suggest that the USAF would now have the fully operational tanker-transport it desperately needs had it stuck to its original decision.
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 13:40
  #705 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by melmothtw View Post
Also, not only does the A330 MRTT 'do more than pass gas to other aircraft', but it doesn't need to be reconfigured to do it either.
Really? Do all A330MRTTs have a main deck cargo door? Do they have a main deck floor designed, stressed, and equipped to handle freight? Do the UK's Voyagers? Adding a main deck cargo door and main deck freighter floor is a damn serious "reconfiguration" if that's what the customer needs. Can the A330MRTT 3D camera vision system enable the boom operator to pass gas to receiver equipped stealth aircraft under all lighting conditions? Yet another serious "reconfiguration" issue of that's what the customer needs. Can the A330MRTT act as an airborne data relay station for stealth aircraft equipped with directional datalink systems? I could go on, but I think the point has been made. And in case you missed it, the point is that neither the A330MRTT nor the KC-767 can do many of the things that are required of the KC-46.

The point is, this was not a non-developmental program with USAF buying an off-the-shelf aircraft. Many of USAF's requirements needed to be developed, integrated, and tested. That took time and money. More time and money than provided by the firm-fixed-price contract. Boeing paid out of their own pocket for all the additional expenses, and paid penalties for the extra time. They were willing to accept that risk to win the competition. Northrop was not. And in the end, neither was Airbus. They could not match Boeing's low-ball bid. Just as Lockheed and several others could not meet Boeing's low ball bid for the T-X trainer (with a EUROPEAN partner), nor Boeing's low-ball bid for USAF's UH-1N replacement (the only bid based on a EUROPEAN helicopter), nor Boeing's low-ball bid for the MQ-25.

Last edited by KenV; 16th Jan 2019 at 13:50.
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 14:01
  #706 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by melmothtw View Post
There's 'development', and then there's development. No one can truly say what might have been, but given the nature and extent of the modifications that would have been needed to turn the MRTT into the KC-45A and given the track record of the MRTT since the KC-X contract was first awarded back in 2008 I don't think it is too much of a leap of fatih to suggest that the USAF would now have the fully operational tanker-transport it desperately needs had it stuck to its original decision.
You're right, "no one can truly say what might have been." But Airbus clearly decided it took too much of a "leap of faith" to develop, integrate, and test all the requirements that needed to be developed within the time and cost constraints required by the contract. Simply put, it couldn't be done, by either Airbus or Boeing. The difference was that Boeing was willing to bid low and win the firm-fixed-price contract and accept the risk of paying out of pocket for the additional costs and paying the penalties for the additional time. Airbus was not. The final KC-X contest was won on price, pure and simple. Just as the T-X trainer, UH-1N replacement, and MQ-25 contests were won on price. Boeing underbid all the contestants by being willing to pay for the inevitable cost overruns out of pocket. None of these are the result of "anti European" sentiment claimed by so many.

Now about the phrase " I don't think it is too much of a leap of fatih to suggest that the USAF would now have the fully operational tanker-transport it desperately needs had it stuck to its original decision." You're suggestion requires the leap of faith that Airbus could have done in less time and less cost what Boeing could not do. The track record of both companies does not begin to support such a leap of faith.
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 14:08
  #707 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by KenV View Post
Really? Do all A330MRTTs have a main deck cargo door? Do they have a main deck floor designed, stressed, and equipped to handle freight? Do the UK's Voyagers? Adding a main deck cargo door and main deck freighter floor is a damn serious "reconfiguration" if that's what the customer needs. Can the A330MRTT 3D camera vision system enable the boom operator to pass gas to receiver equipped stealth aircraft under all lighting conditions? Yet another serious "reconfiguration" issue of that's what the customer needs. Can the A330MRTT act as an airborne data relay station for stealth aircraft equipped with directional datalink systems? I could go on, but I think the point has been made. And in case you missed it, the point is that neither the A330MRTT nor the KC-767 can do many of the things that are required of the KC-46.
If you mean, can the A330 MRTT refuel at night under strict lightning conditions, yes it can and does over Iraq and Syria.
Given that F-35 and F-22 communicate only with each other on specialist datalinks, then no the A330 MRTT cannot, but nor can the KC-46. However the MRTT does have Link 16,so can communicate by other means.
Can a KC-46 get airborne with a full load of fuel from a 9,000 foot runway? I'd question that.
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 14:11
  #708 (permalink)  
 
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Do all A330MRTTs have a main deck cargo door?
Those for the nation that asked for the main deck cargo door have. The USAF's would have too.

Do they have a main deck floor designed, stressed, and equipped to handle freight
Not required - can carry 45 tonnes of freight in the underfloor cargo area. This is something the KC-46A can't do this as much of the underfloor space is taken up with auxiliary fuel tanks, which would be why most of the cargo needs to be carried in the main cabin - a case of the aircraft's capabilities dictating the requirements, rather than the other way around.

Do the UK's Voyagers?
No, see above.

Can the A330MRTT 3D camera vision system enable the boom operator to pass gas to receiver equipped stealth aircraft under all lighting conditions?
Australia is the only current 'boom-MRTT / F-35' operator, and ​​​​​I have heard no reports from the RAAF that it can't.

Can the A330MRTT act as an airborne data relay station for stealth aircraft equipped with directional datalink systems?
See above.

I could go on, but I think the point has been made.
I'm not sure what point has been made. None of these things - the reinforced floor, the ability to fuel stealth aircraft under all lighting conditions or the ability to act as an airborne data relay station - are the reason why the KC-46A is so massively delayed and over budget. It is telling that nowhere did you ask if the MRTT has had a fully functioning fly-by-wire boom for the last 11 years.

They could not match Boeing's low-ball bid. Just as Lockheed and several others could not meet Boeing's low ball bid for the T-X trainer (with a EUROPEAN partner), nor Boeing's low-ball bid for USAF's UH-1N replacement (the only bid based on a EUROPEAN helicopter), nor Boeing's low-ball bid for the MQ-25.
I do agree with you on this, but it's a slight divergence from the operational requirements/ merits of the MRTT vs the KC-46A in relation to the KC-X contract award and re-award.
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 14:24
  #709 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by TwoStep View Post
If you mean, can the A330 MRTT refuel at night under strict lightning conditions, yes it can and does over Iraq and Syria.
No, that is not what I meant. KC-767 does that. As does KDC-10, and KC-10, and KC-135, all Boeing products. USAF has some VERY robust requirements for refueling stealth aircraft under certain lighting condition. No tanker can meet those requirements. NONE, including KC-46. However, Boeing has proposed a software upgrade for KC-46 that USAF has (preliminarily) accepted will meet the requirements. At a future date. At Boeing expense to integrate, test, and install.

Can a KC-46 get airborne with a full load of fuel from a 9,000 foot runway? I'd question that.
Question it all you want. What matters is does USAF have such a requirement? If not, what's your point? My point is and has been that no off-the-shelf tanker could meet all USAF's requirements. NONE. It took more years of development and more money than USAF's firm-fixed-price contract provided to develop, integrate, and test all those requirements. Boeing was willing to pay all those costs and penalties out of pocket. Neither NG nor Airbus were willing to do so.
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 15:05
  #710 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by melmothtw View Post
Do they have a main deck floor designed, stressed, and equipped to handle freight?
Not required - can carry 45 tonnes of freight in the underfloor cargo area.
Hilarious. You're actually suggesting you can tell USAF to go pound sand when they have a requirement for a main deck cargo floor. Have you ever considered that USAF's main deck cargo requirement relates more to dimensions than it does to weight? Let me provide a for instance. The KC-10 has a taller belly cargo hold than A330 and can hold more weight. And yet every USAF KC-10 has a main deck cargo door and main deck cargo floor. USAF wants the height of a main deck cargo hold. To put it in USAF parlance, the airplane is much more likely to cube out than to weight out. It's volume they care about, especially height.

I'm not sure what point has been made.
I've been very clear what point I'm making and repeated it multiple times. I don't see how you missed it. But since yo clearly did I will reiterate again:
1. No off-the-shelf tanker met USAF's requirements. NONE.
2. Meeting all USAF's requirements required development, integration, and test. USAF's firm-fixed-price contract provided neither sufficient time nor money to accomplish that.
3. Boeing was willing/able to pay out of pocket for the additional time and cost beyond the contractual terms to meet all the requirements. Neither NG nor Airbus were willing/able to do so.

None of these things - the reinforced floor, the ability to fuel stealth aircraft under all lighting conditions or the ability to act as an airborne data relay station - are the reason why the KC-46A is so massively delayed and over budget.
Really??!!! And you base this claim on what? Try actually reading this thread rather than conjecturing. And about your "over budget" statement. That's tosh. This is a firm-fixed-price contract. The program has stayed within the contractual budget because Boeing is paying for all the additional costs. Neither NG nor Airbus were willing to do that.

It is telling that nowhere did you ask if the MRTT has had a fully functioning fly-by-wire boom for the last 11 years.
Telling? Why? Is that even a requirement? And BTW, the KC-10 has had a "fully functioning" fly-by-wire boom for several decades (since the late 70s). The KC-46 uses a modernized KC-10 boom. So what? (you may want to google "red herring fallacy")

I do agree with you on this, but it's a slight divergence from the operational requirements/ merits of the MRTT vs the KC-46A in relation to the KC-X contract award and re-award.
You appear to be under the delusion that the first contest (won by NG/EADS) had the same requirements as the final contest. It did not. A lot changed over the years between the first and final contest. It's one of the reasons NG later pulled out of the contest.
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 15:25
  #711 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by melmothtw View Post
Can the A330MRTT 3D camera vision system enable the boom operator to pass gas to receiver equipped stealth aircraft under all lighting conditions
Australia is the only current 'boom-MRTT / F-35' operator, and ​​​​​I have heard no reports from the RAAF that it can't.
You're missing the point. The KC-46 was not designed to meet European or Aussie requirements. It is designed to meet USAF requirements. USAF has multiple stealth aircraft with more currently in design/development. KC-46 has to meet those requirements. They are very difficult to meet and currently not even the KC-46 can meet them. Boeing has proposed and USAF has (preliminarily) accepted a software upgrade that meets the requirements. But Boeing must integrate, test, and install this upgrade at their own expense and must meet an aggressive schedule for doing so.
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 15:38
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If only there had been an interim solution where the USAF could have perhaps leased some tankers to provide capacity and releive the elderly KC-135s until KC46 came onstream....
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 16:35
  #713 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Davef68 View Post
If only there had been an interim solution where the USAF could have perhaps leased some tankers to provide capacity and releive the elderly KC-135s until KC46 came onstream....
Which brings up some interesting factoids about funding and the "color of money".

When the KC-767 lease idea was put forward, the point was to avoid sinking lots of money into half century old airframes to keep them flying until a suitable replacement could be developed. The lease option was based on using KC-135 operating/maintenance dollars to lease the KC-767s, because buying them would require procurement dollars (one color of money) which USAF did not have and instead using operating/maintenance dollars (a different color of money) which USAF did have. But Senator McCain essentially single handedly killed that idea because he seriously disliked Boeing and called it "corporate welfare." So instead, the KC-135 fleet was upgraded with new avionics/cockpits to keep them flying. Guess who got that contract? Boeing. (Yeah Rockwell built the parts, but did not install them along with other upgrades.) And we all know that Boeing also ended up with the contract to build new KC-46 tankers. So much for sticking it to Boeing. And oh yeah, with the new cockpits, the KC-135s aren't all that decrepit after all and the pressure to retire them is greatly diminished. So while KC-46's late entry into service is lamentable, it has not resulted in a loss of aerial tanking capacity.because none of the KC-135s have been retired with most of the fleet having service life to well into 2040 and many well beyond. Theoretically, KC-135s will start to be retired as KC-46s come into service. But it's still not clear if this will be on a one for one basis, or a two for one basis. We'll have to wait and see.
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 16:54
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If only there had been an interim solution where the USAF could have perhaps leased some tankers to provide capacity and releive the elderly KC-135s until KC46 came onstream.
in 2015 Airbus was in discussions to provide the USAF with additional tanking capacity, so there was/is an interim tanker of sorts...the A330 MRTT.

...it has not resulted in a loss of aerial tanking capacity.because none of the KC-135s have been retired with most of the fleet having service life to well into 2040 and many well beyond.
Really? Because in 2017 the chief of USTRANSCOM, General Darren McDew, told Congress that the shortfall in tanker capacity was the thing that was causing him "to lose sleep at night". He added that plans to retire the KC-10A from 2019 to 2024 were being considered because of this shortfall in capacity.

It's one thing to have KC-135s in the inventory, it's quite another to have them available for operations.

Last edited by melmothtw; 16th Jan 2019 at 18:05.
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 17:39
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You're actually suggesting you can tell USAF to go pound sand when they have a requirement for a main deck cargo floor.
To be fair, if someone had they might have had an in-service tanker by now.
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 18:45
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Originally Posted by melmothtw View Post
Really? Because in 2017 the chief of USTRANSCOM, General Darren McDew, told Congress that the shortfall in tanker capacity was the thing that was causing him "to lose sleep at night". He added that plans to retire the KC-10A from 2019 to 2024 were being considered because of this shortfall in capacity.
Yes, really. I said USAF had not lost any tanking capacity. It has not. The shortfall is due to an increase in tanking requirements, not a decrease in tanking capacity. That's why USAF is looking at delaying KC-10 retirements, looking at buying tanking services from vendors versus buying tankers for organic tanking, further extending the life of KC-135s, and more. Now keep in mind that if USAF decides to buy tanking services, there will be a plethora of vendors who will convert old aircraft into tankers to provide those services and that Lockheed/Airbus will have to compete with those low-cost providers. Good luck with that.
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 18:48
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Originally Posted by Bing View Post
To be fair, if someone had they might have had an in-service tanker by now.
Ummm, USAF has literally hundreds of "in service tankers" now, all with main deck cargo doors and floors. It's a basic requirement for a USAF tanker. The KC-767 had such a door and floor, but did not meet the other requirements USAF says it needs. These decisions aren't made in a vacuum. Keep in mind that the KC-46 will almost certainly still be flying 50 years from now. Maybe (likely?) into the next century. They're already planning on keep the C-17 flying well into the next century.
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 18:51
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Cool

[QUOTE=KenV;10362344]Which brings up some interesting factoids about funding and the "color of money".

"When the KC-767 lease idea was put forward, the point was to avoid sinking lots of money into half century old airframes to keep them flying until a suitable replacement could be developed. The lease option was based on using KC-135 operating/maintenance dollars to lease the KC-767s, because buying them would require procurement dollars (one color of money) which USAF did not have and instead using operating/maintenance dollars (a different color of money) which USAF did have. But Senator McCain essentially single handedly killed that idea because he seriously disliked Boeing and called it "corporate welfare." So instead, the KC-135 fleet was upgraded with new avionics/cockpits to keep them flying. "......


++++
Partly correct- but somehat wrong- The cliff note version of what follows is that the lease of 767 tankers was to save employment and more specifically the 767 Assembly line...


. A bit of history- prior to 911, Boeing had put forward the 767 as a tanker and had contracted with Japan and Italy for a few. Airframe had been "mil spec" certified and design work was well underway. - 767 line at that time was close to running down- out. When 911 happened, the effects on Boeing re airplanes, was significant- and air travel all of sudden got more expensive. - Meanwhile, back at the ranch- The local union ( SPEEA ) was putting together a CVD (Countervailing duties petitiion ) against airbus without any help from Boeing re Airbus selling into the U.S at ultralowball prices. Boeing had that summer quietly hired Rudy DeLeon ( former asst sec defense ) to start to push 767 as a U.S tanker( and squelch the CVD ) . Since after 911, it was obvious that Boeing (BA) was going to take a majo employment hit, insurance costs to airlines were going up, etc, and the 767 line was near end.- A non management Boeing engineer with a unique background and many many very high level contacts was asked by the Senator from Alaska (Ted Stevens) what might be done re Boeing. The answer was threefold. 1) Feds to provide special insurance re hijacking 2) Increase airport security, and 3) Use funds to lease with option to buy at a later date 767 tankers similar to the japan and italian version. this would support the 767 line and dull somewhat the expected drop in airtravel, and bolster the expected need for more tankers to help carry on overseas activites by military re al queda and similar.

But then what happened was the MDC dummies stepped in re how to build and deliver said tankers by Everett delivering to the military division a green- flyable airplane which would then be flown to Wichita and disassembled to install tanks, booms, etc, and re- assembled. As if that wasn't enough Ms Dryiun and Mr Sears got involved wIth corruption and bribes etc. Meanwhile, Boeing stepped in and squelched The CVD re backdoor methods, and sent Rudy de Leon to persuade SPEEA to push the tanker and provided a two page analysis and comments about how the costs/arrangements would be handled. Problem was it was a poorly written attempt to snow the engineers who were supposed to stand in awe of a former asst sec def with his tassel toed sneakers, etc. His presentation did NOT go well when one Engineer stood up, waved Rudy's paper handout and splaIned to Rudy it was a buch of garbage, and as to rudys comments re tankers,
Said engineer explained he was delivering the KC135/s when Rudy was not yet in high school- or maybe it was grammer school.- and BTW said engineer also splained to rudy ( not me BTW ) that he had probably been in more high level pentagon meetings than Rudy. So politican v Engineer did not come out well.

Of course mccain was unhappy- and as the corruption and insane pricing game came to the front, the whole mess was cancelled.

How do I know all this- ? 1) I was at said meeting 2) Said Engineer was a good friend of mine and was WELL known by upper management for being a straight shooter and more than willing to speak truth to power.

Last edited by CONSO; 16th Jan 2019 at 19:05. Reason: typos and such
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 18:53
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Originally Posted by KenV View Post
Ummm, USAF has literally hundreds of "in service tankers" now, all with main deck cargo doors and floors.
Well in that case they can cancel the KC-46A and save all that time and money. If you write requirements that can't be met don't be surprised if it goes badly.
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Old 16th Jan 2019, 21:11
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Originally Posted by TwoStep View Post
Can a KC-46 get airborne with a full load of fuel from a 9,000 foot runway? I'd question that.
"What part of mandatory requirement don't you understand"...
In short, yes, the KC-46 has demonstrated the ability to take off fully loaded from an 8,000 ft. on a plus 15 deg C day. That was one of the requirements. As was main deck cargo (with an automated handling system), provisions for future 'features' that we were not allowed to ask about, and a whole laundry list of other stuff.
You may not have noticed, but the basic KC-135 airframe has been used for a number of non-tanking applications over the last 60 years (e.g. electronic surveillance). It's a pretty good bet that the KC-46 will get similar treatment - and I'm sure a lot of that extra 25 miles of wiring is provisional for future applications. I spent a lot of time on and around several of the KC-46 aircraft - and there are numerous features both inside and outside that are not on any other 767. I can't even guess as to what some of them are for (and if I could I wouldn't be able to talk about it - I had to take training and sign a non-disclosure before I was even allowed on the aircraft). All stuff that would have needed to be developed an integrated into the MRTT at considerable time and cost.
Now, I'm not saying Boeing didn't make some mighty foul ups that resulted in large cost and time over runs - things like fuel manifolds that couldn't hold fuel and the well known wiring errors. Maybe Airbus would have avoided making those sorts of major mistakes. Then again, maybe not - the A400M has hardly been a shinning example of good program management - nor was the A380.

I think what Asturias56 wrote is pretty close to the mark - there were several mandatory requirements that simply didn't make sense when applied to a aircraft derived from a commercial airliner. But even the mention to the USAF that a requirement didn't make sense was immediately shutdown with the 'what part of mandatory don't you understand'.
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