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Boeing beats Airbus to tanker deal

posted 25 Feb 2011, 06:02 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 25 Feb 2011, 06:05 ]
Boeing has won a $30 billion contract for 179 new U.S. Air Force refueling planes, trumping arch rival Airbus parent EADS in a fiercely contested competition that began nearly a decade ago.
USA-AIRBUS BOEING - It's been a bitter battle.

Passenger jet rivals Airbus and Boeing, fighting to win a lucrative contract to supply the U.S. Air Force with 179 new refuelling planes to replace the current fleet which is half a century old.

Finally, after ten years, a decision.

Michael Donley is secretary of the U.S. Air Force.

SECRETARY OF THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE, MICHAEL DONLEY, SAYING:

"Today, based on all evaluated criteria, price and the results of a well-documented process we announce that the Air Force has selected the KC-X proposal provided by the Boeing company."

The 767 passenger jet will form the base of Boeing's tanker.

Airbus parent company EADS had pitched its A330 to fulfil the role.

Although the planes look similar, the U.S. government said Boeing offered a far better deal at a time when defence budgets are being squeezed.

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn.

U.S. DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY, WILLIAM LYNN, SAYING:

"I think what we can tell you is that Boeing was a clear winner."

But the $30 billion contract hasn't always been so clear cut.

In 2004 a former Boeing executive and a former Air Force official were jailed over its handling.

Four years later EADS was awarded the deal, only to have it cancelled after Boeing protested.

Boeing's plane will be constructed in Washington, where workers understandably welcomed the decision.

UNIDENTIFIED BOEING EMPLOYEE, SAYING:

"This would be the one thing that would tip us over. It would be outsourcing the wrong product, I think, and we can't outsource our military."

It's a big boost for Boeing, which is struggling to get its 787 Dreamliner commercial jet programme back on track.

EADS says it's disappointed, but says it would only protest the decision if it saw mistakes in the Boeing contract.

Andrew Potter, Reuters

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