US Air Force launches market research for Bridge Tanker Program

USAF Bridge Tanker Program
USAF KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft assigned to 100th Air Refueling Wing takes off at
RAF Mildenhall, UK. The service is looking for a new tanker to bridge the gap between the end of service of the KC-135 and the entry into the fleet of an adequate number of Boeing KC-46A Pegasus.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center issued a Sources Sought Announcement for the Bridge Tanker Program to determine the number of qualified, interested companies capable of providing solutions for the planned, non-developmental tanker recapitalization program.

The Air Force is seeking companies that have the capability to deliver commercial derivative tanker aircraft to supplement the Air Force tanker aircraft fleet at the end of KC-46A Pegasus production.

The new aircraft will bridge the gap to the next Advanced Air Refueling Tanker recapitalization phase, previously referred to as “KC-Z.” The existing KC-46A firm-fixed price contract is limited to 13 production lots, with the last planned procurement in 2027 and delivered in 2029.

As a commercial derivative aircraft, the Bridge Tanker will be based on existing and emerging technologies with a full and open acquisition competition. Neither developmental stealth nor unmanned capability is planned.

The requirements for Bridge Tanker are currently being defined and the necessary capabilities will be incorporated into the final Request for Proposal once it is validated through the Department of Defense’s joint staffing process. The Air Force plans to release the final RFP by the end of 2022.

The KC-135 Stratotanker will be 70 years old when the Air Force expects to receive its last KC-46 delivery in 2029, and replacing these vital aircraft continues to be critical to the Air Force mission to project Rapid Global Mobility in today’s strategically competitive environment.

Source, Image: USAF

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