It's a classic decision that almost
all of us face, whether shopping for a car, a truck or an airplane.
Should I buy or lease? In discussions on whether to purchase or
lease about 100 specially-fitted Boeing 767, the Air Force lands on
the side of making a purchase. It is, according to a USAF report to
Congress, worth the extra $100 million, because the purchased
aircraft can be delivered faster.
Fast Is Good
Faster is just what the Air Force says it needs in replacing its
fleet of 544 KC-135 tankers, the bulk of an aging tanker fleet that
the brass says is almost too old to safely service. The price
difference may sound like a lot of money (well, it is to us mere
mortals), but overall, it's a relative drop in the bucket. The
Pentagon estimates buying the 100 tankers would cost $17.2 billion,
while leasing them would cost $17.1 billion. The difference is less
than one percent.
But, of course, that's just one cost model. Other assumptions
indicate cost of leasing the planes higher than purchasing them
outright. The difference could be almost $2 billion. Now, we're
talking serious money.
The Air Force recommendation calls for delivery of the first
specially-modified 767 in 2009, with the last of the 100 aircraft
to be in USAF inventory by 2016.