After EADS 'tsunami', U.S. Transportation Commander priorized before The Senate

By Jim Garamone American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2009 - Acquiring a new fleet of Air Force tankers, known as KC-X until an airframe is chosen, is imperative, the commander of U.S. Transportation Command told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.

"My top priority remains the recapitalization of our aging tanker fleet," Air Force Gen. Duncan J. McNabb told the senators.

"The KC-X will be a game-changer." The aircraft, designed to be a refueler with cargo-carrying capability, will revolutionize the mobility world the same way the C-17 did for in-theater and strategic airlift, the general said.

"It will be the ultimate mobility force multiplier," he said.

The Air Force selected Northrop Grumman/EADS for the tanker project last year, but rival bidder Boeing protested the decision. Bidding was reopened after a Government Accountability Office found flaws with the process.

McNabb also gave the senators an overview of Transcom's responsibilities and operations. All told, he said, Transcom aircrews fly 900 sorties per day.

"That's a takeoff and landing every 90 seconds – sometimes in the most austere areas like Antarctica, sometimes in the most dangerous, like a forward operating base in Afghanistan," he said.

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