Ala. to learn decision on multi-billion dollar tanker contract today

According to EADS, military aircraft can be refueled by its KC-45 at speeds of 180 to 325 knots. (Source: EADS North America)
According to EADS, military aircraft can be refueled by its KC-45 at speeds of 180 to 325 knots. (Source: EADS North America)


WASHINGTON (RNN) - The Pentagon will announce the winner of its $40 billion aerial refueling tanker bid Thursday afternoon, according to a press advisory issued to media.

In contest for the bid to build the next generation of refueling tankers are Boeing and EADS North America.

Guy Hicks, vice president of communications for EADS North America, expressed his confidence Thursday afternoon in his company's aircraft, which was initially selected in 2008.

"We know that we submitted a competitive bid," he said

The competition between EADS and Boeing has been fierce, as the initial contract awarded EADS was stripped away under Boeing protest.

On March 3, 2008, EADS' KC-45A tanker aircraft was selected to be the U.S. Air Force's next tanker.

Boeing, however, filed a protest, which was supported by the Government Accountability Office, who called elements of the selection process flawed.

Hicks hopes a similar appeal will not take place if his company is awarded the bid for a second time. The Air Force is currently using the KC-135 tanker, a craft he noted dates back to the Eisenhower era.

"If we are successful, we hope our competitor will do the right thing and let us move on," he said.

Hicks said the company has a team ready to begin work at its production facility in Mobile, AL.

EADS has also received criticism because it is foreign-owned. Many say they have problems with outsourcing defense intelligence.

Hicks reiterated that the company's KC-45 would be built by 4,800 American workers across more than 45 states.

"This is an opportunity to in-source jobs," he said, noting that American aerospace jobs are increasingly outsourced.

Hicks also spoke of broader plans for its production facility, which he said would have a huge economic impact in this country.

"Were also going to build commercial freight aircraft out of the same facility," he said.

In addition to the 15 tankers requested by the government per year, the company will be able to build 25 or more of these craft on the same assembly line.

A call placed to Boeing's tanker representative was not returned.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is in Mobile for the announcement. He'll be joined by Mayor Sam Jones, Mobile City Council members, Mobile County Commissioners, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Development team, Alabama State Port Authority executives, Mobile Airport Authority board members and economic development team along with local team members from Airbus Engineering Center, Airbus Military and EADS North America.

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