Northrup Grumman tops Boeing for $35 bn Air Force deal

March 1st, 2008 - 2:01 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, March 1 (DPA) The US Air Force has awarded a $35 billion-deal to revamp its ageing air refuelling tanker fleet to Northrup Grumman and its European partner EADS, snubbing long-favoured US plane maker Boeing. The Friday deal will see Northrup Grumman replace 179 of the Air Force’s tanker aircraft, and could potentially lead to a deal to replace all of the force’s 600 tankers at a value of up to $100 billion.

The award comes as a heavy blow to Boeing, which has long had an edge over its competitors in procuring military contracts. Bloomberg News reported that an analyst survey had unanimously picked Boeing to win the contract.

Northrup Grumman’s proposed KC-45A tanker is based on the airframe of the Airbus A330 commercial aircraft. Airbus is a subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS).

Northrup Grumman plans to build the aircraft at a facility in Mobile, Alabama, which the company in a statement said would employ 25,000 new workers. An initial contract valued at $1.5 billion is for four test tankers.

Beoing built the Air Force current fleet of KC-135 refuelling aircraft in the 1950s and 1960s.

“The KC-45A is the tanker of the future,” the commander of Air Mobility Command, General Arthur J. Lichte, said. “It will enable us to carry more fuel cargo and allow us the flexibility to refuel any type of receiver on every mission.”

Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne said the Northrup Grumman award provided better value to the US taxpayer.

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