Washington (AFP) Feb 1, 2011
Boeing said Tuesday it would submit a new, "final" bid for a $35 billion contract to supply the US military with 179 aerial refueling tankers, as it tries to beat European rival Airbus.
A Boeing spokesman said the firm and US Air Force officials held talks Monday to discuss the company's proposal and revisions would follow.
"This was our last opportunity to get feedback from the Air Force on our proposal before the end of the tanker competition," Bill Barksdale said in a company blog post.
"Based on this feedback, we're now making final adjustments to our bid, which we will provide February 11 to the Air Force," he said.
The revised final proposal "will represent our best and final offer to the Air Force -- one that matches decades of tanker experience and the best state-of-the-art technology with a proven Boeing airframe to best fulfill the Air Force's requirements."
Analysts expect the Air Force to announce its decision in March on the contract to replace 179 tankers from an aging fleet of Boeing KC-135s from the 1950s.
"As the competition comes down to the wire, our tanker team is focused on one thing: providing the Air Force with the most capable tanker at the lowest cost to the taxpayer," Barksdale said.
This will be the third time in nearly a decade the Air Force has tried to secure a contract for the planes.
At first awarded to Boeing in 2003, the Pentagon was forced to cancel the contract by Congress due to irregularities in the process.
In 2008, EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space), the parent of Airbus, and US partner Northrop Grumman won the bid, but the decision was withdrawn after the congressional watchdog, the Government Accountability Office, upheld Boeing's objections.
The lucrative tanker contract has deep political implications, with lawmakers representing states such as Washington, where Boeing makes planes, and Alabama, where EADS would have an assembly plant, vying for jobs.
EADS is competing this time for the military contract without a main partner, but with support from a number of US equipment makers.
An EADS North America spokesman told AFP that the firm had received the same offer and opportunity from the Air Force to submit a final proposal revision "if we choose to," but he declined to comment on whether EADS would.
The two rivals are proposing a militarized version of their commercial aircraft.
Boeing is offering the KC-767, based on its long-haul 767 plane that entered service in 1982. Dubbed the "NextGen Tanker," the plane is smaller than the Airbus plane and is to be assembled in Everett, Washington, and equipped in Wichita, Kansas.
Boeing says its plane will save $10 billion in fuel over 40 years of service and entail maintenance costs that will be 15 percent to 20 percent lower than those of the plane built by France-based Airbus.
The EADS KC-45 is based on the long-haul Airbus 330, in service since 1993. EADS says it has 31 percent more capacity and a longer range than the KC-767.
But the KC-45, bigger than its rival, could have higher fuel costs and require the construction of new hangars. It would be assembled in Mobile, Alabama.
EADS says the contract would create 48,000 US jobs, slightly below the 50,000 forecast by Boeing.
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Israeli defense merger gets green light
Tel Aviv, Israel (UPI) Jan 25, 2011
Israeli government ministers and labor leaders have recommended a merger between state-owned Israel Military Industries and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in a major shake-up in Israel's high-tech defense industry. The move, if approved by the government, could affect Israel's drive to build a protective shield of missile systems designed to counter a massive bombardment of missiles an ... read more
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