Tanker Contract is Back in Play

From Jen DiMascio, POLITICO:  The stage is now set for a two-company battle for a $35 billion contract to make aerial refueling tankers for the Air Force in the wake of the announcement by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. that it would in fact submit a military version of its A330 aircraft for the contest. …

Just a month ago, however, it appeared that Boeing was cruising toward a sole-source award. EADS’s American partner Northrop Grumman withdrew from the competition, saying that the Pentagon’s bid specifications leaned toward the kind of smaller plane that Boeing intends to offer. Without an American partner, EADS chief executive Louis Gallois said a solo bid was nearly impossible.

But then, the Pentagon said it would allow companies 60 days beyond the May 10 deadline to submit bids.

And EADS, which now was allowed to look at the entire request for proposals, including the classified portions that Northrop had previously controlled, began to see the competition in a new light. …

“While we are disappointed in the bid submission delay, we hope for a fair and transparent competition free of any additional changes intended to accommodate a non-U.S. prime contractor,” said Boeing spokesman Bill Barksdale. “We also remain deeply concerned about the ability of a heavily subsidized Airbus/EADS to accept levels of financial risk that a commercial company such as Boeing cannot. We regret that these concerns will not be addressed in the bid evaluation, even when the U.S. government has proven in a world court that those subsidies are illegal and directly distort competition between Airbus and Boeing.”  (graphic: AFP/Getty)

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