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Air Force awards training deal for new tanker

May. 2, 2013 - 06:58AM   |  
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FlightSafety has won the contract to provide the training system for the Air Force’s new tanker, the service announced Wednesday.

“FlightSafety will be awarded a $78,369,818 fixed-price-incentive firm and firm-fixed-price contract for engineering, manufacturing and development of the KC-46 Aircrew Training System, including delivery of courseware and simulator-based training systems,” the Air Force announced.

The contract comes with an initial obligation of $1 million, with the remaining amount to be incrementally funded. The first systems are expected to arrive in February 2016, with final delivery due by 2026.

“This is a vital step in the development of KC-46A,” Maj. Gen. John Thompson, program executive officer and program director for the KC-46, said in an Air Force news release. “We have reached an award that is the product of a disciplined, meticulous and transparent source selection and delivers real value for the warfighter.”

The fixed-price nature of the contract is in line with the program’s recent history. Prime contractor Boeing is signed to a contract which caps the government’s liability at $4.9 billion, requiring the company to cover any overruns.

“Everyone recognizes the need to get value for our money,” Thompson said in the release. “Strong competition clearly benefits the taxpayer and, I think, benefits our industry partners as well. Effectively managing costs and schedule puts everyone in a winning situation.”

The KC-46 has been identified as a key modernization program by Air Force officials. It aims to produce 179 new planes to replace the aging KC-135 tanker fleet, with 18 tankers delivered by 2017 and completion of production in 2027.

Bids for the aircrew training system, the primary training simulator for the Boeing-designed tanker, were first solicited in May 2012 with an award expected that August. Since then, the date had slipped first to December and then February.

“FlightSafety is pleased and proud to have been awarded the KC-46 Aircrew Training System contract,” Bruce Whitman, president and CEO, wrote in a statement. “FlightSafety has the experience and expertise required to provide KC-46 crews with the highest quality training system using our proven advanced technology training devices, visual systems, and highly effective courseware. All of us with FlightSafety are honored to support those who serve to protect our freedom at home and around the world.”

The company will design and manufacture “Weapon System, Boom Operator, and Part Task Trainers” at its 375,000-square-foot Oklahoma facility, built in 2011, according to the statement.

Four other companies — CAE, L-3, Lockheed Martin and Boeing — competed for the contract.

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