Singapore – Singapore has moved ahead with plans to order aerial refueling tankers to replace its KC-135Rs.
Industry sources say Singapore has issued a request for information (RFI) for six tankers. One source says a request for proposals (RFP) may be issued by midyear.
The Southeast Asian nation has four Boeing KC-135R aerial refueling tankers, the first of which the island nation received in late 1999. These aircraft are in fact A-model KC-135s that Boeing upgraded to R-model by re-engining the aircraft with newCFM-56 power plants.
Industry sources say new aerial refueling tankers are a top priority for the Singapore Air Force, which has been complaining about the cost and difficulty involved in maintaining the KC-135R. This tanker is based on the Boeing 707 commercial platform.
One source says the reason Singapore’s KC-135Rs may be difficult and costly to maintain is because the aircraft are a lower block standard than the U.S. Air Force’s.
At the recent Singapore Airshow,displayed a U.K. . Israel Aircraft Industries was also at the show promoting its 767 Multi-Mission Tanker Transport, and Boeing was promoting its aerial refueling tanker.
Boeing would ordinarily be the front runner in the competition because of Singapore’s close ties with the U.S. But the KC-46 is still in development. Boeing is already committed to deliver 18 KC-46As to the U.S. Air Force by 2017, leaving no early delivery slots for foreign customers. The earliest Boeing can delivery KC-46s to international customers is 2018, and that may be too late for Singapore.