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Boeing rival to pull out of tanker competition

Post by John Henrikson / The News Tribune on March 8, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
March 8, 2010 12:12 pm

WASHINGTON – Northrop Grumman will announce later today it will not bid on a $35 billion contract to start replacing the Air Force’s aging fleet of aerial refueling tankers, Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., confirmed

The decision by Northrop Grumman does not automatically mean Boeing will win the contract. There were reports the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. (EADS), the parent company of Airbus, might consider bidding. But Dicks said he didn’t think that was likely.

Northrop Grumman is expected to make its announcement after the financial markets close.

Northrop Grumman had teamed with EADS and offered a tanker based on an Airbus A330 airframe. Boeing’s tanker would use a 767 airframe.

Dicks, who is about to become the chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, said he expected the Pentagon to award the contract to Boeing without a competition as Defense Secretary Robert Gates had previously indicated.

“This is very good news,” Dicks said. “We are very excited about this.”

The congressman said there had been some talk that EADS would proceed on its own, but he discounted that possibility.

“Without an American face on this, I don’t see how EADS could do this on its own,” he said.

Dicks also suggested that once the tanker was in production he would consider increasing the number being built from 15 to 20 or 25 a year.

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