News Releases

Tankers: Pentagon Officials Have No Answers for Murray on Additional Construction Costs for Larger Airbus Tankers

Apr 24 2008

At Senate hearing, Pentagon's Comptroller and head of military construction can't answer questions on additional costs of retrofitting hangars, ramps, and taxiways for larger Airbus plane

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) questioned top Pentagon officials about the additional military construction costs that Airbus tankers would create because of the need to significantly retrofit hangars, ramps, and taxiways. Senator Murray asked why these additional costs were not a factor in the decision to award the $40 billion contract to Airbus. The officials, Comptroller Tina W. Jones and Under Secretary of Defense Wayne Arny, said that they were not part of the decision making process and could not comment on the additional costs.

Senator Murray later voiced her frustration that budget officials, including the DoD's own Comptroller, were not part of the Air Force's decision making process. 

"These are the people who are responsible for devising the Department of Defense's budget and yet the Air Force never consulted them on all the costs associated with awarding this contract to Airbus," said Senator Murray. "That's like handing your teenager a credit card to go on a car shopping spree, no questions asked. No family runs like that, no business runs like that, and as taxpayers we certainly shouldn't allow the military to run like that."

Senator Murray is concerned that:

  • The overall difference for additional construction costs between the Boeing KC-767 and the Airbus A330 was based on a faulty scale and did not take into account rebuilding air bases for the heavier and bigger Airbus tanker. 
  • The Airbus A330 would require $2 billion more in construction costs to upgrade hangars, runways, ramps and other infrastructure at current tanker bases than the KC-767. 
  • The Airbus A330 Require significant investment to be able to operate from the civilian airfields used by Air National Guard and Air Force reserves. 
  • The Airbus A330 would cost approximately 22 percent more to maintain than the smaller KC-767. 
  • The Airbus A330 would cost $25-$40 billion more in fuel than the more fuel efficient KC-767 over the lifetime to accomplish its mission.