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Following Pentagon Contract, Airbus Gets Huge UK Order for Refueling Tankers     Print Email
Thursday, 27 March 2008

Airbus has followed up its whopping U.S. deal of in-flight refueling tankers with a second, slightly smaller sale of similar aircraft to Britain.

The British deal, confirmed by EADS chief Louis Gallois in an interview with a French newspaper, will be worth approximately $26 billion (£13 billion) over 27 years. The RAF will take 14 of the tankers from AirTanker, a European consortium led by EADS, the defense subsidiary of Airbus, using the airframe of the A330 civilian airliner. Their date for entering service is 2011. The contract reportedly will create 600 new jobs and safeguard another 3,000 in Britain, where the wings are built for the Airbus airframe.

The UK sale marks the second big defeat for a major military sale in less than a month for EADS’s chief rival in the United States, Boeing. The U.S. contract, initially worth $35 billion, is being formally challenged by Boeing, which is confident of being able to mobilize strong support in Congress to make the Air Force re-examine the decision to award the contract to a European consortium. If there is an all-out showdown with the Pentagon, Congress could refuse to fund the program, making the Air Force modernize its existing fleet of Boeing-made tankers.

Boeing has filed an official complaint about flaws in the procurement process that it lost last month, and “it is a list of specifics that look too serious to just be brushed aside,” according to John Pike, who heads GlobalSecurity.org, an on-line service of strategic analysis based in Washington..

The complaint must be reviewed by the Government Accounting Office (GAO), so, Pike said, “it is too soon for EADS to start counting any chickens” in this deal.

Related Post:

Pentagon Contract a “Massive Breakthrough” for European Companies, 6 March 2008

See Also:
KC-X Boeing Protest, GlobalSecurity.org

EADS wins £13bn RAF tanker deal, BBC News, 27 March 2008

EADS: Unveiling $26 Billion Deal With United Kingdom, Stratfor Strategic Forecasting, 27 March 2008

Airbus parent EADS wins British tanker refueling deal, International Herald Tribune, 27 March 2008

Air tanker deal set to be sealed, Financial Times, 27 March 2008