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Posted: 1/4/2006 8:52:49 AM EDT
linkeroo

By MATTHEW DALY

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A defense bill approved by Congress would allow open competition for a multibillion-dollar contract to supply refueling tankers for the Air Force.

President Bush is expected to sign the measure, squelching an earlier House-approved bill that would have helped Boeing by keeping the Pentagon from buying military equipment from the parent company of European jet maker Airbus.

Boeing lost the lucrative tanker contract in 2004 amid an ethics scandal.

"Buy America" language had been inserted by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. However, Hunter agreed to remove the provision last month at the request of Senate leaders and administration officials, who said it could spark retaliatory measures by other countries and limit Pentagon flexibility. Congress voted final passage Dec. 21.

Harald Stavenas, a spokesman for Hunter, said this week the lawmaker would fight for it in the future.

Boeing lost the tanker deal in 2004, after revelations that it had hired a top Air Force acquisitions official who later admitted giving the company preferential treatment.

The deal would have allowed the Air Force to buy or lease 100 Boeing 767 planes for use as tankers, but it was killed by Congress in the 2005 defense- authorization bill. The Air Force has said it is likely to reopen the deal to competition, although no formal timeline has been set.

George Behan, chief of staff to Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton, said withdrawal of the buy-America clause was expected.

"There's no question there will be an open competition. The real question is whether the Pentagon will ever award the contract to a company that has a major European component, given the [U.S.] complaints about illegal subsidies the parent company is receiving," Behan said.

The House bill would have barred the Pentagon from purchasing goods and services from foreign companies that receive government subsidies. While no companies were named, lawmakers said the amendment was aimed at disqualifying Airbus' parent company from bidding on the tanker contract.

Airbus, which is 80 percent owned by European Aeronautic Defence & Space (EADS), has long received subsidies from European governments, sparking tension.

EADS, which is based in France and Germany, has said it plans to team with Northrop Grumman to offer a tanker version of its Airbus A330 passenger jet to produce a new generation of aerial refueling tankers. The contract could be worth at least $20 billion.

Boeing spokesman Doug Kennett said Tuesday that "Boeing welcomes fair competition and the opportunity to tender the best proposal possible."

Randy Belote, a spokesman for Northrop Grumman, said the California-based company believes its partnership with EADS would produce an American-made product.

Link Posted: 1/4/2006 8:54:15 AM EDT
At least my tanker will be around until I retire. I wouldn't want to be caught in a scarebus.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 8:55:43 AM EDT
All I have to say is that Boeing beter get the contract for the new tanker, EADS has to go down.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 8:58:01 AM EDT
I didn't know America actually still manufactured things for others to purchase........ hhhmmm interesting.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 9:02:32 AM EDT
Probably won't make a difference.

Boeing will win anyway.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 9:05:24 AM EDT

Is Airbus really the only other option?

It seems from the original post a lot of people shot themselves in the foot (and other body parts) by squashing the Boeing tanker deal (ethics indiscretions notwithstanding)
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 9:05:45 AM EDT
Well considering that Boeing and Airbus are are pretty much the only companies who make suitable airframes...
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 9:10:27 AM EDT
Boeing could have had the contract wrapped up, if they had just let things play out instead of trying to manipulate the process.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 9:11:16 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Lon_Moer:
Boeing could have had the contract wrapped up, if they had just let things play out instead of trying to manipulate the process.



They are slow learners. They did the same thing with spacelift.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 9:13:26 AM EDT

Originally Posted By danpass:
Is Airbus really the only other option?

It seems from the original post a lot of people shot themselves in the foot (and other body parts) by squashing the Boeing tanker deal (ethics indiscretions notwithstanding)



McDonald-Douglas - bought by Boeing
Lockheed-Martin - Biggest thing they make anymore is the C-130
Airbus.... Well, ...

I guess Lockheed could make something, but they'd have to start from scratch. I can't see them dusting off the L-1011 drawings.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 9:49:09 AM EDT
I don't give a damn where my equipment comes from as long as (1) It's the best that can be bought for the money, and (2) the technology is 100% transferred so that we can make our own parts if required by the political situation.

NTM
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 10:01:42 AM EDT
How feasable would modifying a C-17 to fill the tanker role be? Obviously it would be more difficult than the military simply leasing the aircraft from Boeing, but the C-17 seems to be doing just fine in its current state.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 10:04:32 AM EDT
And Nero fiddled as Rome burned.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 10:08:56 AM EDT

Originally Posted By SkyCatII:
How feasable would modifying a C-17 to fill the tanker role be? Obviously it would be more difficult than the military simply leasing the aircraft from Boeing, but the C-17 seems to be doing just fine in its current state.



The C-17 is made by Boeing as well.

Airliners make for good tankers because we don't really fly with that much more fuel.

Both the KC-10 and the KC-135 have a full length cargo decks and the extra gas is in bladders where the luggage is stored in passenger jets.

Using a cargo plane would mean that all we could do would be moving fuel around.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 7:36:26 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ASUsax:
Probably won't make a difference.

Boeing will win anyway.



+1. We'll win with the 777. EADS is there as a sop to the McCain types, plus to get the price down, which is good. I think we have Airbus' number now on how to price and sell airplanes.

Merlin
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 8:19:35 PM EDT
Leasing the tankers always seemed like a BS deal to me. Why not buy them outright? It's not like .gov can get the tax break you get on leased equipment.
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