Boeing, EADS to offer bids on $35 billion U.S Tanker contract

  • 12:00 AM, July 9, 2010
  • 3011
The long-running fight over the Pentagon’s $35 billion tanker contract enters a new stage on Friday when Boeing and EADS North America submit bids to build a midair refueling tanker. Air Force and Defense Department officials will pore over thousands of pages of technical and price data over the next four months to choose a victor in a lobbying and public-relations war the two companies and their congressional supporters have waged for much of the last decade. As they review the bids, a political fight will rage on with the midterm election as a backdrop — potentially derailing the much-coveted contract. Air Force officials said recently that the tanker contract will be awarded in mid-November, placing the key date days after the Nov. 2 elections. Boeing contends that the company and its 800 suppliers would support about 50,000 U.S. jobs nationwide. It argues EADS, the parent company of Airbus and a European conglomerate, will build the planes in France, Germany and Spain. The U.S. company is also pushing a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling last week that found European governments illegally subsidized the launch of new Airbus planes. Boeing and its supporters argue the subsidies give EADS an unfair advantage by allowing it to offer a lower price than Boeing. Boeing is going to submit a “best value” proposal for the tanker by Friday, but the company is “still concerned about the lack of consideration of the impact of illegal subsidies,” said Dan Beck, a Boeing spokesman. He said the company supports “congressional efforts to urge the Department of Defense to consider that in their evaluation.” EADS will submit its bid this week and is “proud to compete on the merits of our tanker,” said Guy Hicks, EADS spokesman. “By contrast, our competitor appears determined to compete instead in the political arena, in an effort to take the decision authority away from the Air Force,” Hicks added. EADS has said it plans to assemble the tanker aircraft in Mobile, Ala. The company has strong congressional backing from Alabama and Mississippi lawmakers, the majority of them Republicans. About 48,000 U.S. workers will build the EADS tanker across a team of more than 200 supplier companies, the company contends.