On Wednesday, March 28, 2007, Northrop Grumman President and Chief Operating Officer Wes Bush spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to discuss the company's announcement to form a world-class KC-30 tanker industry team to compete for the U.S. Air Force Tanker Replacement Program. Below are his remarks.
"The Very Best Approach"
Thank you Randy (Belote, Vice President, Corporate and International Communications), and thank you all for joining us today. A special thanks the Honorable Bob Riley, Governor of Alabama; to the Honorable Jo Bonner, representing Alabama’s 1st District, which includes the city of Mobile; and to the Honorable Samuel Jones, Mayor of the city of Mobile. Thanks for being here, gentlemen, to add your views to this important topic. Finally, thank you to the representatives of many of the suppliers that help make up the KC-30 industrial team who have joined us today. The companies they represent employ Americans across the country, and will be critical in the construction of this American-built aircraft. I say “American-built” because – as I’m sure Governor Riley, Congressman Bonner and Mayor Jones will agree – if it’s built in Alabama, it’s built in America.
The question of who will supply the next tanker transcends the usual language of business competition. For good reason, America’s defense planners have identified the recapitalization of our nation’s air-to-air refueling tankers as the Air Force’s number one procurement priority. It will be the most comprehensive such program in a half century. And the investment required to recapitalize the fleet will ensure that it will be many decades before the next such recapitalization will be possible. That is why it is so important that the approach chosen for this recapitalization is the best available for our nation’s future.
The competition between Northrop Grumman and Boeing on this program is as much a competition of vision as it is of aircraft or capability. Today our nation and its military face world-wide threats and challenges unforeseen a mere decade ago. Can anyone guarantee what the threats will look like fifty years from now when the aircraft about to be chosen comprises the tanker fleet? Can we be sure what the threats will look like even ten years from now? The answer, of course, is no. This fact underscores the one element of our future defense needs about which we can be certain, and that is their fundamental uncertainty. And uncertainty, by definition, places a premium on versatility, adaptability, and flexibility.
This is why Northrop Grumman is engaged in this competition. For generations, Northrop Grumman has been defining the future with the most visionary solutions to our nation’s most difficult defense challenges. Systems like the B-2 Stealth bomber, JSTARS, Global Hawk and so many other remarkable examples of technological innovation and integration. It is successes like these that have made us America’s most trusted national security supplier.
The KC-30 will add to that proud tradition by providing everything our Air Force leaders have asked for in air-to-air refueling – and more. And this gets to the heart of the debate: The reason why the KC-30 is a better option for our nation than the 767 is because the KC-30 offers our military more: More refueling capacity; more versatility against an uncertain future; more capability; and more value per aircraft. And perhaps most important, the KC-30 offers our military much more than a fifty-year-old capability at a new-aircraft price. A key tenet of our nation’s military strategy is technological superiority, based on capability provided to the warfighter.
Our nation’s defenders – those of today and those not yet born – deserve the best capability available – and that is the KC-30.