Boeing and EADS North America have submitted final bids for the US Air Force (USAF) KC-X aerial refuelling tanker contract, to replace 179 KC-135 aircraft.

Boeing has offered a fleet of its NewGen tankers, 767-based, multimission aircraft that deliver superior capabilities to US warfighters, while EADS North America is offering the KC-45, a tanker aircraft based on the Airbus A330 MRTT (KC-30).

The NewGen tanker flight control design places aircrews in command of the entire flight envelope, provides pilots with an advanced digital flight deck featuring electronic displays, includes a modernised NewGen KC-10 boom and offers an increased fuel offload rate and fly-by-wire control system.

The NewGen tanker will burn 24% less fuel than the EADS KC-45, however, the Boeing concept aircraft and refuelling systems have never been built, flown or tested.

The KC-45 is estimated to provide substantial savings in operating costs compared to the NewGen Tanker and the KC-45’s refuelling systems have been proven in flight, with more than 1,000 aerial refuelling contacts.