What happened to the Northrop Grumman/EADS North America KC-45A?

Finding a new tanker for the USAF has never been an easy process. David Willis details the highs and lows of the Northrop Grumman/EADS North America KC-45A in the KC-X programme

For six fraught months in 2008, it appeared the European aerospace manufacturer EADS had achieved a major breakthrough in the US military market. A derivative of the Airbus A330 airliner had been selected to fulfill a hotly contested requirement to replace an initial tranche of the USAF’s Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker aerial-refueling fleet.

Known within the company as the KC-30A, and assigned the US Mission design series designation KC-45A, the win came at a time when the Europeans seemed to be enjoying greater success against the ‘buy American’ lobby that had helped ensure most major US weapons systems were procured domestically. Even better for EADS was the fact an Airbus design had beaten its rival in the commercial market (Boeing) for the lucrative deal.

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