March 3, 2008
"Why did the Air Force choose a less efficient aircraft that is harder to maneuver?" That's the question cominf from Kansas Senator Pat Roberts on Monday.
The tanker decision may be crashing with lawmakers like him, but 'hard to maneuver' beats 'hard to maintain' for those who fly the current tankers.
"We're just glad to get the new capability and we're glad to see this advance," says Col. Jim Vechery, Wing Commander with the 22nd Air Refuling Wing.
He says the current KC-135's need replaced. Now lawmakers are concerned the planes the Air Force chose as the next generation may not fit at current air bases.
"A-330 is going to require larger hangers that that have to be built and it requires the extension of runways that have to be built," says Congressman Todd Tiahrt.
Here's how the current KC-135 compares with Boeing's KC-767 and the Airbus KC-45, as it will be known. The KC-135 is relatively small in comparison. Only about 136 feet long and 130 feet wide.
The proposed Boeing plane is about 22 feet longer and 25 feet wider. And according to Congressman Tiahrt, still able to land on most Air Force runways and fit in existing hangers.
Airbus's plane dwarfs the KC-135. It's stretches 56 feet longer and the increase in wing span alone is near the size of two school busses.
The air force is expected to release a list in the next few weeks of all the air bases and airports that won't have to make adjustments for the bigger planes. It's unclear if McConnell will be on that list but Congressman Tiahrt says he's very anxious to see who is.
He also wants to know how much the changes will cost, and if the Air Force knew about them before awarding the contract to Airbus.
"They're saying they factored that in when they made the decision but I want documentation."
The state of Kansas waited for the decision to be made, now it'll wait for answers explaining it.
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