Boeing Submits Bid for U.S Military Aerial Refueling Tankers

Says its bid would create approximately 50,000 total U.S. jobs

U.S. aerospace giant Boeing on Friday submitted its bid for a $40 billion U.S. military contract also contested by bitter rival Airbus.

Boeing said it had hand-delivered the 8,000-page proposal to build 179 aerial refueling tankers for the U.S. Air Force to a base in Ohio.

In a statement, the firm said its bid would create "an American-made" tanker that "will satisfy all 372 mandatory Air Force requirements and be capable, survivable, and combat-ready at the lowest cost to the taxpayer."

Airbus submitted its bid on Thursday, stressing its tanker would be more practical because it is based on an already existing plane.

Boeing shot back that its plane would be based on the 767 commercial airplane.

"We are honored to support our U.S. Air Force customer and submit this proposal to meet the critical mission needs of this nation," said Dennis Muilenburg, the head of Boeing Defense, Space and Security.

Although the details of the bid were not made public, Boeing's plane is expected to be smaller and less costly to operate than that of Airbus.

Boeing claimed the plane would be "more cost-effective to own and operate than the larger and heavier Airbus A330 tanker," and would "save American taxpayers more than $10 billion in fuel costs alone over its 40-year service life because it burns 24% less fuel."

Hoping to snare the contract "of the century," executives from Airbus's parent firm EADS said their 8,819-page bidding document was submitted ahead of a Friday deadline.

The European firm is proposing a military version of its A330 commercial passenger airliner, the KC-45.

With an eye on its U.S. rival, EADS said if it won the contract, a new aircraft manufacturing facility in Mobile, Ala., would help create 48,000 U.S. jobs.

Boeing said its bid would create "approximately 50,000 total U.S. jobs."

Airbus and Boeing have traded accusations of unfair competition as they compete for the kudos and cash that come with producing 179 aircraft for the US military.

U.S. lawmakers have called for the value of Airbus's alleged subsidies to be factored into the European firm's bid.

A third company, US Aerospace, has announced it would put up a last-minute bid in partnership with the Russian-Ukrainian manufacturer Antonov.

But its ability to meet U.S. military requirements remains uncertain, given its serious financial difficulties. And Antonov has not confirmed its participation in the project.

US Aerospace said on Wednesday that it would like the bid deadline extended by 30 or 60 days.

The Air Force is expected to make its decision by Nov. 12.

It will be the third time the Defense Department has awarded the contract.

In 2003, Boeing won the lucrative deal, but the decision was overturned after a conflict of interest between the Pentagon and the aircraft manufacturer was revealed.

A senior purchasing manager at the Department of Defense had been negotiating her employment with Boeing at the time of the bid. The Air Force official was later convicted of criminal conspiracy.

Airbus won a second call for proposals in a joint bid with U.S. firm Northrop Grumman in 2008.

Again, the decision was annulled when the U.S. Government Accountability Office found the offers were incorrectly analyzed.

Northrop-Airbus subsequently withdrew from the race, triggering an uproar in Europe, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel accusing Washington of bias in favor of the all-American Boeing plane.

Copyright Agence-France Presse, 2010

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