Boeing will offer the U.S. Air Force a refueling tanker based on its 767 commercial airliner in its bid for a $35 billion contract, the company announced Thursday.
Boeing said its offering will satisfy all 372 of the Air Force's mandatory requirements, including a production rate at whatever level the Air Force determines.
Boeing said it will rely on existing Boeing facilities in Washington and Kansas and on U.S. suppliers throughout the country to build the tanker.
It is "an American-made tanker that will be capable, survivable and combat-ready at the lowest cost to the taxpayer," Boeing said in a statement.
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The aircraft, which Boeing has named "NewGen," will include:
* A digital flight deck with electronic displays used in its 787 Dreamliner. The displays show flight altitude, navigation, engine indication and crew-alerting information on screens that are 75 percent larger than those on a commercial Airbus A330.
* A new generation "fly-by-wire" boom with expanded refueling capabilities and increased fuel offload rate.
* The ability to be controlled by the aircrew, which will have unrestricted access to the full flight envelope for threat avoidance at any time, rather than allowing computer software to limit combat maneuverability.
The Air Force released its final request for proposal on Feb. 24. Bidders have 75 days to respond. The Air Force is expected to announce the winner later this year.
It's the Air Force's third attempt to replace its fleet of Eisenhower-era refuelers. Boeing has offered a 767-based tanker in previous tries.
Northrop Grumman has warned that it may not bid on the project, saying the Air Force's guidelines appear to favor Boeing's smaller plane. The Northrop variant would likely be based on the larger Airbus A330 airframe under a partnership Northrop has with Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co.
Northrop spokesman Randy Belote said the company is still analyzing the Air Force's request for proposals and will announce whether it will submit a bid when that process is finished.
Boeing has said it will deliver its bid by May 10.