Air force opts for KC-45A tanker

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Northrop Grumman has been selected by the US Air Force to provide the KC-45A aerial refuelling tanker for the KC-135 tanker replacement program. The air force's KC-45A is based on the A330 commercial airframe, produced by EADS.

The initial KC-45A contract calls for four system design and development aircraft and is valued at $1.5bn. The first KC-45A airframe completed its first flight on September 25, 2007 and will now begin military conversion to the tanker configuration. The KC-45A's aerial refuelling boom system is currently in flight test and is said to have successfully performed numerous in-flight contacts with receiver aircraft.

The KC-45A Tanker aircraft will be assembled at new manufacturing facilities in Mobile, Alabama, and will employ 25,000 workers at 230 US companies. The KC-45A's refuelling systems will be built at new facilities in Bridgeport, West Virginia, and delivered to the KC-45A Production Center for aircraft integration.

The KC-45A will be built by a team led by Northrop Grumman, and includes primary subcontractor EADS North America and General Electric Aviation, Sargent Fletcher, Honeywell, Parker, AAR Cargo Systems, Telephonics and Knight Aerospace.