The U.S. Air Force's decision to award a huge tanker contract to Boeing is disappointing and Washington has missed a chance to deepen the transatlantic relationship, Germany's chancellor said on Feb. 25.
"The chancellor ... took note of the decision with regret. From the German point of view this is a missed opportunity to deepen the transatlantic partnership," a spokesman for Angela Merkel told a regular briefing.
The Pentagon on Feb. 24 announced that Boeing had won the contract, worth over $30 billion, to supply aerial refueling tankers to the U.S. Air Force, at the end of a long and tortuous contest.
The head of EADS, Airbus' parent company, has already said he was "disappointed and perplexed" by the decision.
Germany's economy minister Rainer Bruederle also said Berlin considered the EADS offer an attractive one.
Boeing is now tasked with delivering 18 aircraft by 2017, but the contract is expected to grow to 179 tankers. The planes, effectively flying filling stations, give the US aircraft global reach and allow Washington to project military power well beyond its borders.
The decision capped a nearly 10-year attempt by the U.S. Air Force to begin to replace an ageing Boeing-built fleet of 400 tankers dating back to the 1950s.
But it was an upset, with most experts predicting the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company would land the contract.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011
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