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UK MoD DELAYS FSTA

17 Jun 02. The UK MoD announced the delay in the FSTA tanker programme by 12 months. The Boeing-led TTSC made the following statement, “TTSC is obviously disappointed by this announcement from the Ministry of Defence. The company continues to be committed to the programme. We remain convinced that our proposal based on the BA 767 fleet offers the best value for money for the UK and that TTSC will provide the most effective operational solution.

TTSC, with the full support of the shareholders, will continue to work closely with the Ministry to ensure the preferred bidder on this complex PFI programme can be announced as soon as possible.”

A number of complications are believed to have been encountered by the DPA team managing FSTA. One of the problems is the reluctance by the banks to commit to the project before a final bidder is selected. This makes the bidding process bbby both teams problematic without full commitment by the banks.

The Thales team told BATTLESPACE at Eurosatory that this delay is costing both teams a staggering £0.5m per month in cost. One other unconfirmed possibility may be that the UK is considering joining General Jumper’s SMART Tanker Project in the US. SMART tanker forms part of the Jumper’s MC2A vision which involves a whole new fleet and constellation of sensor aircraft developed by a consortium of three companies which include Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. These aircraft will replace E-3 and JSTARS aircraft by 2012 and it may be that the Uk is being courted to join the SMART tanker fleet which includes the capability of tanker aircraft to act as ‘sensors in the sky’. The technology of the future tanker fleet of both countries was also discussed. The US uses a joint basket, Probe and Drogue system whilst the Uk uses the FR Aviation developed Basket system. The Probe and Drogue system provides faster refuelling at 6000lbs a minute and suits high altitude refuelling. The JSF fleet may use the Probe and Drogue system which would require a rethink by the UK and may also bring in the previously reported technology between FR Aviation and Smiths which recently won the US requirement.

On May 22nd, Jerry Daniels, chief executive of Boeing’s military aircraft and missile systems division, said that he thinks the company will be able to close a deal to lease air refuelling tankers to the U.S. Air Force by this summer.

“I think we’ll get there,” Daniels said at in investor conference in St. Louis. “By some time this summer, we ought to be able to close on that deal.” Although
the government is able to borrow money more cheaply than other institutions, Daniels said budgetary restrictions make the lease deal more sensible than an outright purchase.

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