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It Flies! First KC-X Spec KC-30 Takes To The Skies

...But Can It Pass Gas?

Northrop Grumman tells ANN the first KC-30 Tanker aircraft completed its maiden flight Thursday, less than 75 days after intial assembly began on the competitor for the US Air Force KC-X contract.

Aircraft "D-1" flew for nearly four hours... and will be the first aircraft delivered to the Air Force if the Northrop Grumman team is awarded the KC-X contract. Contract award is currently expected in December 2007 or early January 2008.

Based off the Airbus A330 commercial airliner, the KC-30 Tanker's production line is supported by a fully operational industrial supply chain that includes several US-based suppliers. More than 1,281 A330s have been delivered and ordered to date, serving 87 operators worldwide.

Current orders for the commercial A330 exceed 300 aircraft, with this number expected to grow considerably.

Northrop Grumman notes the A330 is also established in the world's military tanker market, having won the last three international tanker competitions head-to-head against the KC-767. Australia, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates have all selected the A330 platform to serve as their next-generation tanker.

"Our KC-30 Tanker production plan leverages a highly successful commercial market leader that gives the US Air Force a proven, reliable, and flexible production process. We're providing a modern aircraft that is available today with a considerable backlog for the future, a process we will transfer to our production facility in Mobile, Alabama," said Paul Meyer, Northrop Grumman vice president and general manager of the KC-30 program. "With the first KC-30 Tanker aircraft now airborne, we have demonstrated the unique advantages of using a high-rate commercial production line which is currently building and delivering the most modern and advanced aircraft available for the refueling mission."

After its flight tests, the first KC-30 Tanker will be outfitted for the aerial refueling role. This is the same configuration selected by the Royal Australian Air Force, whose first KC-30B Tanker is complete and being prepared for delivery.

"The successful maiden flight of aircraft number one is tangible evidence of the strength of the KC-30 Tanker team, our ability to deliver a quality system to our customer on schedule and the reality of the Northrop Grumman KC-30 team's low risk approach," said John H. Young, Jr., CEO of EADS North America Tankers.

FMI: www.northropgrumman.com, www.airbus.com

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