Done deal: EADS won't appeal tanker decision

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The decade-long fight to secure a multi-billion refueling tanker deal that would have created thousands of Alabama jobs is officially over. The European plane-building company that lost out on the $35 billion deal says it won't appeal the Air Force's decision to go with Chicago-based Boeing.

The European Aeronautic De fence and Space Co. said Friday it won't ask the Pentagon to review the decision to have Boeing build nearly 200 giant airborne refueling tankers.

EADS planned to assemble the aircraft at a closed military base in Mobile.

"Air Force officials declared Boeing the winner of the tanker contract, which was a great disappointment to Mobile," said Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who calls Mobile home. "EADS has evaluated the results of the competition and has chosen not to protest. However, I will continue to scrutinize the results to ensure the contract award was fair and justified."

The Air Force last week picked Boeing to build a replacement for the Eisenhower-era tanker fleet. The contract would mean tens of thousands of U.S. jobs, with Washington state and Kansas getting the bulk of the work.

Sessions did see a silver lining. "It is clear that this fierce competition drove down the cost of the aircraft. Now, the winner must deliver on their promises. Regardless of the unfortunate outcome, the EADS team's decision to make Mobile their production site affirms what we already know—that Alabama is a leader in defense and a great place to conduct business in the global economy."

The tankers will allow jet fighters, supply planes and other aircraft to cover long distances.

Copyright 2011 WSFA 12 News. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.