News synopsis: WASHINGTON - The Air Force on Friday awarded Northrop Grumman Corp. and a European partner a $35 billion contract to build airborne refueling planes, delivering a major blow to Boeing Co. Full story: Northrop, EADS win $35B Air Force deal - Yahoo! News Subtitle: "Military Industrial Complex" wins again :smile: Here's brief chronology, per my memory: Earlier this decade USAF did an extensive analysis of the KC-135 [aerial tanker] fleet. Most were found to be structurally sound despite their age. Major concern: engines. The conclusion: The aircraft are good for another 20-30 years [at then current average flight hours] but the engines are nearly shot. Some aircraft have had their engines replaced with modern engines [CFM56] but most had 40+ y/o engines. USAF decides to keep the KC-135s but replace the older engines. They formally request funding from Congress to replace older engines. The military industrial complex weighs in: Boeing proposes a lease 767 of derived aircraft to replace the KC-135s. USAF categorically rejects the proposal. They will consider purchase but not a lease. Score: USAF: 1, MIC: 0 MIC does an end-round and persuades Congress to force USAF to reconsider the 767 lease project. Score: USAF: 1, MIC: 1 A scandal hit the news ... I'll skip the gory details and just say USAF persuaded Congress to re-bid the proprosal. Score: USAF 2, MIC: 1 Sensing an opportunity EADS teams with NorthrupGrumman and proposes assembling A330 derived aircraft in USA and offer as a purchase. USAF allows the proposal to proceed but defers final decision for consultation with Congress. Boeing modifies their proposal to purchase [instead of lease] of 767 based aircraft. Oddly-? there wasn't much discussion of the original plan to merely replace the engines on the KC-135s. Score: USAF 2, MIC: 2 Yesterday's news, USAF approved purchase of 4 development aircraft from the EADS/N-G partnership. Score: USAF 2, MIC: 3 It appears the military industrial complex will win this one. Summary: What USAF initially requested: new engines for the KC-135s. What USAF got: new aircraft to replace the KC-135s. The be fair to the military industrial complex, merely replacing the engines on the KC-135s would have been rather costly, I'd estimate $40-60 million per plane and the planes would still be old.