(NSI News Source Info) PARIS, France - June 17, 2009: A day after stating it could offer the 767 or 777 airframes in a new U.S. tanker bid, Boeing named on Tuesday four variants of the two types it could use to build a tanker. Boeing is waiting to see the new request for proposal in the U.S. Air Force tanker competition before deciding to stay with the 767 or shift to something else, such the larger 777. Shown is an artist’s conception of a 777 tanker refueling a B-2 bom ( BOEING) In a briefing at the Paris Air Show, Boeing tanker vice president Dave Bowman said the 767-200, -300 and -400, and the 777-200 ER aircraft all could be candidates to become Boeing's tanker offering when a new request for proposal is announced this summer. "We have one for every one of the strategies being considered. The Boeing team is pumped and ready to rock," Bowman said. Boeing would prepare to offer a mixed fleet of 777s and 767s, he said. Even the engine choice on a 777 offering would be up the customer, he added. Boeing lost the previous tanker contest to the Airbus A330 but successfully challenged the decision. Bowman was deliberately vague about which version Boeing would offer, claiming he awaited the RFP. He did say the new name for the unspecified offer, the 7A7, could stand for "Advanced, Ability, Available, Agility or Acquisition." Boeing has already developed a 767 tanker for customers Italy and Japan, but Bowman claimed that developing an all-new 777 tanker would take a "similar" time to that needed to ready a 767 tanker for a U.S. customer. Bowman did give some insight into whether Boeing would seek to take a green aircraft and convert it to tanker format, or roll an aircraft with tanker features off the assembly line. "The P8 [maritime patrol] aircraft is a line aircraft, and is a very good example of how to do a commercial derivative aircraft off the line," he said. Boeing started its 767 program for Italy with green aircraft before declaring that it would switch to rolling 767 tankers of a dedicated line if it won the U.S. contract.
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