Boeing left the Survivable Airborne Operations Center (SAOC) competition, which will give rise to the successor to the E-4B Nightwatch, a US Air Force (USAF) aircraft also known as “Doomsday”.
Based on old Boeing 747-200s, the E-4Bs have the mission of maintaining active command and control of US security in the event of a nuclear apocalypse, hence the nickname.
The reason for the manufacturer’s removal would have been disagreement with the terms of the notice proposed by the USAF, which includes a fixed price proposal. In this case, any type of unforeseen event in the program, the loss will have to be borne by the contractor.
Boeing’s reluctance comes after it recorded consecutive losses with contracts for the KC-46A Pegasus tanker and the two new Air Force One presidential planes – in both of which it agreed to receive a fixed amount.
Sierra Nevada Corporation remains in the competition
The USAF launched the competition costing US$8 billion in 2019 and intends to choose the winner in 2024. In addition to Boeing, it had also sent a proposal to Sierra Nevada Corporation, which will remain in the competition.
To Breaking Defense, Boeing stated that “We are approaching all new contract opportunities with added discipline to ensure we can meet our commitments and support the long-term health of our business.”
The company reinforced, however, that its proposal is based on 60 years of experience in developing military aircraft from commercial models, such as the E-4B.
The confidential SAOC program does not clarify certain details such as the aircraft to be used, but it is practically certain that the Boeing 747-8 will serve as the basis for installing the systems and equipment necessary for the mission.
Sierra Nevada even opened a large facility in Dayton, Ohio in August, capable of modifying large aircraft such as the 747.
The tendency is for the winner of the competition to follow a model similar to the VC-25B, the two new US presidential aircraft.
Instead of producing new 747 jets, as it did with the VC-25A, which have in-flight refueling receptacles, Boeing chose two 747-8s that were in storage to adapt them to the VVIP standard.
Delayed, the new Air Force One has caused increasing losses, as it cannot readjust the value agreed with the Air Force.