USAF created the nomenclature KC-45A to refer to its next tanker aircraft, but now that the KC-X competition is back up for grabs, neither Boeing nor Northrop Grumman can claim the KC-45A designation—not yet, at least. The Air Force has not yet notified Northrop Grumman to quit calling its airplane the KC-45A, “but the Air Force will do so and we expect that they will [comply],” the spokeswoman said.The KC-30 team though remained defiant; if not delusional. Randy Belote, Northrop’s VP for communications, was quoted as saying yesterday, "As winner of the KC-X program and while under contract for the KC-45, we have no plans to change the name or nomenclature of our tanker.”
Also, Air Force Magazine online reports that the naming of the KC-45 has been delayed and put on hold due to the the recent shake-up of Air Force leadership:
The rumored top name for the new tanker is “Expeditor II,” which honors the Beech C-45 Expeditor of the World War II era. The nickname would seem to echo the KC-45A designation chosen for the new aircraft (see item above), but the original Expeditor was a relatively small transport specializing in light loads and small airfields, while the two KC-X contenders—Boeing’s KC-767 and Northrop Grumman’s KC-30—are based on widebody airliners.It seems strange that the Air Force would choose a name associated with a small transport aircraft, but their whole fixation on more pallets and cargo for a tanker has always been beyond comprehension.
We will not be too hasy in our judgment though. Maybe the Airmen on the flightline know what they are doing. When the KC-767 is eventually chosen as the new tanker, naming it the "Expeditor II" might make sense as it can use a lot more of those "small airfields" than the KC-30.
FYI: in case you missed last month's name the KC-30 contest, proceedings and results can be viewed on TAnchorman's blog.