EADS North America announced today that it will not compete to build the Air Force's VC-25 replacement, better know as Air Force One, opting to focus on the more lucrative next-generation tanker competition.
Earlier this month, the Air Force put out feelers to industry to determine interest in building the next presidential transport aircraft. The Jan. 7 notice to industry states that an Air Force analysis of alternatives has determined it would be less costly to replace the service’s VC-25s in the next decade instead of trying to maintain the aging Boeing 747-200 jets, mainly because part suppliers no longer exist and maintenance times are increasing.
Some in the defense community believed another Boeing-Airbus showdown was in the works, similar to the Air Force's stalled tanker competition.
But it appears top EADS officials have opted against bidding to build less than a handful VC-25s when they can instead focus on selling nearly 180 KC-X aircraft. Below is a copy of an e-mail sent to reporters this morning about EADS decision to abandon the Air Force One competition:
In 2007 at the USAF’s request, EADS North America provided technical information and answered questions regarding several Airbus widebody commercial aircraft as the service conducted its Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) to recapitalize the current fleet of presidential aircraft.
EADS North America’s strategy for growth in the US is based on bringing value to the US warfighter; making industrial investments in the US and insourcing high technology defense and aerospace jobs. After careful review, we’ve determined that participation in the AF-1 program will not help us meet these business objectives."
Though the company will not respond to this RFI, we remain focused on once again winning the KC-X competition with Northrop Grumman, delivering the UH-72A LUH to the US Army and meeting the needs of our US defense and homeland security customers.
We reiterate our strong commitment to the US Department of Defense and to supporting the warfighter with our products and services.
-- Marcus Weisgerber