(Source: Northrop Grumman)
12:00 AM, July 14, 2008

FARNBOROUGH, England --- Northrop Grumman Corporation's Tanker team announced today that all four initial tanker System Design and Development (SDD) airframes are scheduled for final assembly and initial flight testing by the end of 2009. The first two SDD airframes have been built and flown, and are awaiting modification to the tanker configuration.>> "As we've always said, Northrop Grumman is ready now; and having all four SDD airframes ready next year shows our commitment to the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Defense and our Airmen who are currently forced to fly 50-year-old tankers," said Paul Meyer, Northrop Grumman vice president and general manager of Air Mobility Systems. "While our competitor still has not built the tanker or boom system they offered -- our configuration is built, tested and flying now -- and has been selected by four other allied nations. Clearly our tanker is superior, offering better fuel efficiency, greater fuel offload and much lower risk. It's won all five competitions against the 767.">> The first SDD airframe completed final assembly and conducted first flight in 2007, while the second KC-45 airframe performed first flight in May 2008. The initial KC-45 contract calls for four SDD aircraft before transitioning to Initial Low Rate Production.>> "New tankers are needed now, and our team is ready now," Meyer added. "The Air Force selected the KC-45, the only system that is ready to replace the aging tanker fleet and ensure our Airmen have the very best tanker available -- and we're confident we will be selected again.