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Defense Science Board Concludes There is No Tanker Emergency

May 13, 2004 


A new report by the Defense Science Board rejects claims by the Air Force that it needed to rush to lease and purchase 100 new Boeing 767 tanker aircraft. A summary of the study made public concluded that corrosion problems of the fleet are "manageable," and that the Air Force should first study if it needs new tankers and if the Boeing aircraft would be the best choice.

"This report is just another nail in the coffin of the overpriced and unneeded proposal to lease and buy 100 tanker aircraft from Boeing," said POGO Senior Defense Investigator Eric Miller. "We've felt all along that the eleventh-hour claim by the Air Force was nothing more than a desperate ruse. Now the Department of Defense experts agree."

"POGO has said all along that the Air Force has so far failed to justify it even needs the tankers. The charade that this deal is good for anybody but Boeing has got to end."

Among the major findings of by one of the DoD's most influential advisory committees:

  • A board consensus that corrosion of the current tanker fleet is manageable and that the Air Force has a "robust" control program in place.

  • The Air Force could move to offset some of the increasing operation and maintenance of the current fleet of KC-135 tankers with a short-term recapitalization program by putting new engines in the older aircraft.

  • There is no "compelling" need to buy or lease new aircraft until the Air Force conducts a mobility needs study and analysis of alternatives. The current fleet does not necessarily have to be replaced by new aircraft.

  • The Air Force could work with major airframe manufacturers to develop other tanker replacement options that might include aircraft other than the 20-year-old Boeing 767 design.  

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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