Frozen in Time
After all the finger pointing and law suits and scandals and jail time thanks to mishandling of the contract by Boeing and the U.S. Air Force the better part of a decade ago as the Air Force started to plan its next tanker; after the Air Force awarded the contract to Northrop Grumman and EADS, but fouled that up too and had to start over; after Northrop Grumman recently pulled out as the U.S. partner for EADS' A-330-derivative tanker, complaining the new bid process was stacked against them; and after EADS decided to reenter the bid competition alone...drum roll please: Boeing is now talking about pulling its 767-derivative out of the competition, afraid they won't make enough money off the fixed-price contract. You figure it out. We thought we'd post a photo of who's really on the short end of this corporate stick fight—some Air Force KC-135 tankers, waiting to be sent to pasture. This photo was taken during the last ice age. Not really, of course. But it seems like the airplane has been in service for 15,000 years. These tankers were braving the cold earlier this year, some of them with airframes half a century old, at Selfridge Air National Guard Base on a typical February day in Michigan.
Photo: U.S. Air Force/John S. Swanson