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Compromise reached regarding tanker lease initiative

WASHINGTON (USTCNS) --- Air Force officials announced Nov. 6 a compromise agreement regarding the KC-767A tanker lease initiative.

This agreement enables the Air Force to begin recapitalization of the KC-135 aerial refueling tanker fleet by leasing the first 20 KC-767A aircraft starting in 2006. The initiative also provides for purchasing 80 additional aircraft delivered between 2008-2014, for a total of 100 new tankers.

This agreement was forged in recent days through close consultations between Congress, Department of Defense and the Air Force.

"While details remain to be finalized, this compromise achieves an appropriate balance between the need to begin tanker recapitalization and the hard fiscal realities of the budgeting process," said Dr. Marvin Sambur, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition.

The lease initiative enables the Air Force to begin replacing the KC-135E tanker fleet three years earlier than would otherwise be possible using a normal procurement schedule. With an average age of more than 43 years, E-model KC-135s make up the oldest weapon system in the Air Force inventory.

"This agreement is a critical step forward as we catch up on years of under-investment in our aging tanker fleet -- the opportunity to begin modernizing our fleet with a balanced program that meets the demands of our warfighters and our fiscal responsibilities to the taxpayers, said Dr. James G. Roche, secretary of the Air Force. We appreciate the efforts of our colleagues in the executive branch and Congress who were able to forge this agreement.

The KC-767A will be the world's newest and most advanced tanker. It will provide the capability to offload 20 percent more fuel than the KC-135E and, unlike the E-model, can itself be refueled in flight. It will also have the capability to refuel Air Force, Navy, Marine and allied aircraft on every mission.

The Boeing Co., headquartered in Chicago, Ill., manufactures the KC-767A.

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