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EADS 'evaluating' US Air Force tanker award data

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 28, 2011
Europe's EADS said Monday it was "evaluating" US Air Force information on Boeing's win of a massive aerial tanker deal but did not say whether it planned to appeal the decision.

"The EADS North America team has met with the Air Force, received a debriefing and is evaluating the information presented to us," Guy Hicks, tanker program spokesman for the US branch of EADS, said in an email.

The Air Force awarded the $30-plus billion contract to Boeing on Thursday, saying that "Boeing was a clear winner."

The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, the parent of Boeing rival Airbus, has the potential to protest the decision with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the watchdog arm of Congress.

Technically, EADS has 10 days from the award of the contract to protest.

Hicks did not indicate whether an appeal would be filed.

"Our objective has always been that the US warfighter receive the most capable tanker, following a fair and transparent competition. That remains our position today," Hicks said.

Boeing is tasked with delivering 18 aerial refueling tankers by 2017, but the contract is expected to grow to 179 tankers.

The planes, effectively flying gasoline stations, give the air force global reach and allow the United States to project military power well beyond its borders.

The decision capped a nearly 10-year attempt by the air force to replace an aging Boeing-built fleet of 400 tankers dating back to the 1950s.

In 2008 EADS and US partner Northrop Grumman won the contract but that decision was withdrawn after the GAO upheld Boeing's objections.

EADS competed without a main partner this time, but with support from a number of US equipment makers.

After the Boeing award announcement, EADS North America chairman Ralph Crosby said it was "certainly a disappointing turn of events" and that a review of the decision "will take some time."

At a November 16 media breakfast in Washington, Crosby was asked whether EADS would protest an award to Boeing.

"Unless there's some egregious process error, I would not expect that we would protest," he replied.

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