July 5, 2010
An unexpected new player enters the tanker contest, just one week from the deadline for bid proposals to replace Eisenhower Era KC-135s.
California based U.S. Aerospace is an aviation subcontractor. Following a year of work behind the scenes they suddenly emerge in the 11th hour, announcing an agreement with planemaker Antonov.
Antonov is based in the Ukraine, a former Soviet state and best known for making the world’s largest cargo plane
U.S. Aerospace Senior Advisor Charles Arnold says they’re serious about putting forth a winning bid
"It's a major decision on Antonov's part and our own,” Arnold said. “We feel we are competent enough to meet the bid requirements to be a serious bidder in this race for the KC-X project."
Congressman Todd Tiahrt expressed concerns of sensitive U.S. information being compromised if a Ukrainian company bids on the tanker, even if it has a U.S. partner. Arnold insists that’s not a problem
"We plan to have everything that's of a sensitive nature manufactured under U.S. supervision and U.S. Aerospace supervision here in the United States," Arnold said.
Arnold also says it hasn’t been decided where that work would be done, but Kansas is one possibility.
"We would like to hear from the state of Kansas, their abilities to make this a potential location for us and we're looking at other states as well,” Arnold said. “But, of course, it would be in the mix."
He says U.S, Aerospace hasn’t contacted anyone at the state about this and that the Ukrainian tanker would cost less than Airbus’ or Boeing’s plane.
"But we'll be able to give a much more competitive price and a better deal for the American citizens that are paying for this," Arnold said.