News>Industry Days emphasize Air Force need for new tanker
An Air Force Reserve KC-135 assigned to the 939th Air Refueling Wing provides aerial refueling support for an F-16 fighter aircraft. The Air Force seeks to replace the rapidly aging KC-135 Stratotanker with a new multi-role refueling platform.
by Laura McGowan
Aeronautical Systems Center Public Affairs
10/25/2006 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Nearly 100 people from industry and the government attended the Oct. 24 kick off of Tanker Industry Days in nearby Dayton, Ohio.
Sponsored by Aeronautical Systems Center's 653rd Aeronautical Systems Squadron at Wright-Patterson AFB, Industry Days enhanced competition through communication with industry and additionally fostered small business participation in the Air Force's number one acquisition priority--the KC-X Tanker.
While Oct. 24 marked the public portion of the KC-X Industry Days, Oct. 25 and 26 were set aside for attendees to participate in one-on-one sessions with the base's Small Business Office representative to exchange information.
According to Teresa Rendon, small business specialist, Industry Days allow small businesses an opportunity to learn about the 'big' program and engage in one-on-one dialogue with the larger corporate world.
"This dialogue then opens the door for small businesses to possibly become subcontractors," said Ms. Rendon.
According to Terry Kasten, director of the 653rd Aeronautical Systems Squadron, Industry Days also allows industry to reach out to the Air Force and develop a better understanding of the proposed acquisition strategy and request for proposal, the process the Air Force uses to solicit bids from contractors.
"This contact creates synergy by providing industry and small businesses a networking forum," said Mr. Kasten.
He added that the event provides a transparency to the acquisition process while also giving industry insight on what it takes to build an entire weapon system.
During a briefing, Mr. Kasten explained why a replacement tanker is needed. He quoted the Air Force Doctrine Document, Air Mobility Operations, March 1, 2006, saying, "Air refueling enhances the unique qualities of airpower across the full range of military operations. It enables operations and multiplies the effects of operations."
He said the KC-X represents a solid recapitalization strategy. It will replace a rapidly aging air refueling capability in the KC-135 with a multi-role capability and will give more flexibility to the warfighter.
The overall cost of the program is around $20 billion, which includes the purchase of 179 KC-X aircraft over a 15-year period beginning in 2010. The next major milestone for the program will be the release of the final request for proposal in December or January 2007.