The central thesis of KC-30 team’s attack is based on their selectively edited quote of Gen. Handy from an August 3rd, 2005 article published in Aviation Week:
"In my humble opinion, the greatest need is a little more strategic-capable aircraft...I'm saying that the need is more in the KC-10-like aircraft."We’ll sum up our points countering the KC-30 smear, and for those of you who want to delve deeper, we have included many of the links to General Handy’s tanker statements over the years:
First, the 2005 quote that the KC-30 team utilizes demonstrates nothing more than Gen. Handy’s preference that, in addition to replacing the KC-135Es, he also sees a need for more strategic KC-10-like tankers. Gen. Handy could be accused of carrying on the fine tradition of lobbying for more equipment for his pilots and Airmen, but not flip-flopping.
Second, the statement is essentially irrelevant to the current tanker battle, for in its Request for Proposal, the United States Air Force clearly outlined that the competition was for the sole purpose of finding a replacement for the KC-135 tankers. The only argument anyone can validly make using Gen. Handy’s words is that the Air Force was wrong in its decision to replace the KC-135 instead of the first getting more KC-10-like tankers.
Third, the insinuation that the KC-30 is a more strategic-capable aircraft like the KC-10 is just wrong. While the KC-30, as well as the KC-767, can carry more fuel than the KC-135, all these tankers fall far short of the refueling capabilities of the KC-10. (KC-10 w/356,000 lbs of fuel vs. KC-30 w/245,000 lbs of fuel)
Fourth, KC-30 team intentionally manipulates Gen. Handy’s quote in a way that drastically alters its meaning. The actual quote and passage from the Aviation Week article:
"In my humble opinion, the greatest need is a little more strategic-capable aircraft because we do have the R-model 135 to last for many more years," Handy told The DAILY Aug. 2. "I'm saying that the need is more in the KC-10-like aircraft."From this full quote and passage you easily see Gen. Handy’s thinking. 1) Get more KC-10 type tankers, [Note: these new strategic tankers would not be replacements since the KC-10s are in good working order] 2) Replace the KC-135 Es. 3) Replace the rest of the KC-135 Fleet. As you can see, he qualifies all this by suggesting budget factors play a part in the sequencing.
Handy said he also favors replacing the KC-135 fleet but would do that after acquiring more strategic tankers. He said "the nation doesn't have an unlimited supply of dollars, and so you have to sequence these acquisitions as best as you possibly can."
Fifth, below we have listed other statements Gen. Handy has made on the tanker issue. It is worth noting that not once, in any of these articles, does Gen. Handy say anything that contradicts the statements in his Human Events article or the Aviation Week interview.
The only difference is that in the Aviation Week interview Gen. Handy adds that, in addition to the other tanker needs, he also sees the need for “more KC-10-like aircraft.” This is not a contradiction, but his view of procurement priorities at that time. It, as we have stated before, was also a nice bit of lobbying for more strategic tankers in addition to replacements for the KC-135Es that he was assured of getting.
Nowhere does he suggest the KC-10 fleet needs to be replaced, that the Airbus tanker is a more strategic tanker, or that the Airbus tanker would be a better solution to any of the tanker procurement issues he faced.
The KC-30 team wants you to believe their spin version in which Gen. Handy is flip-flopper and you should ignore everything he has said over a long history of testimony, articles, and speeches. We instead believe that you, the informed Tanker War Blog reader, should be the judge of Gen. Handy’s views.
In closing, we have noticed that several KC-30 supporters have attempted to insinuate that Gen Handy was somehow nefariously involved in the "tanker-lease scandal" because he sent, received or was CC’ed on some e-mails about the deal. Or, that he was somehow being paid by Boeing.
This is nothing more than shameful character assassination. General Handy was not in the procurement chain for the lease deal. Of course, as TRANSCOM Commander, he received updates and was asked his view on tankers, but none of these messages gave indications that someone in the procurement chain was manipulating the cost. Also, Gen. Handy was not paid any money by Boeing for his article; we doubt Human Events even paid him. (The last person we know who did get paid by HE had to write two free articles first.)
You don’t see Tanker War Blog attacking General Horner, let alone his character. Because, even though he is a paid KC-30 team consultant and his article has several glaring errors, to do so would be wrong.
We would advise the KC-30 team and their supporters to conduct themselves more honorably in the future.
Other statements by General Handy on tanker issues:
-A March 6th, 2004 piece for Military Aerospace Technology Online directly states that Handy believes the KC-135 fleet should be replaced before the KC-10’s.
“A reliable air refueling capability is essential to the defense of our nation.-Additionally, in the same 2004 interview, Handy proposes his solution to the tanker dilemma. For him, the Boeing 767 is the only answer:
While the KC-10 is still a very viable aircraft, our KC-135 fleet averages over 43 years old, and the oldest KC-135E models have a variety of problems, especially with corrosion in critical areas...”
“…We have a validated requirement for more tankers, and if you look at the challenge, the best option we have is the proposed KC-767 lease/purchase. That is the near-term solution to a long-term challenge…”-At a February 13, 2004 speech at the Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Handy expresses his extreme concern over the status of the E-model of the KC-135:
“…Right now, I would like to retire every single KC-135E model as soon as we could make that happen. Get them out of the fleet.”-In his September 25, 2001 advance policy questions for nomination as Commander in Chief of Transportation Command, Gen. Handy’s prepared statements demonstrates his belief in the need for upgrading the ailing KC-135 fleet:
“Upgrade of our C-5 and KC-135 fleets…are all key pillars of this modernization program.”-At a March 10, 2004 testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Handy devotes part of his testimony to call for a “replacement tanker” for the KC-135 and alludes to the “proposed KC-767 tanker” as the vehicle through which new technology will be tested.