Boeing may be losing edge in Air Force tanker award

Tuesday - 12/14/2010, 4:01pm EST

Has Boeing already lost the bid to build a fleet of new Air Force refueling tankers?

The winner of the tanker plane competition isn't set to be announced until January. But defense analyst Loren Thompson tells Politico's Morning Defense that Boeing executives are pessimistic about winning the $35 billion contract.

Thompson says the reason is apparently something Boeing saw in bid information that was meant for their rival in the competition, EADS. Information on the two respective company's bids was mistakenly switched by the Air Force last month and sent to each other.

The Air Force says the information contained no proprietary data. But Thompson tells Politico it confirmed that the proposal from EADS scored much better in a mission-effectiveness rating than Boeing's proposal.

Boeing does have some members of Congress in their corner. A letter from Representative Rick Larsen of Washington, reported by the Seattle-Pi Blog. In the letter - Larsen asks his fellow members of the House Armed Services Committee to stop ignoring the illegal subsidies that he says Airbus has received from European governments.

The Airbus A-330 is the basis for the proposed EADS KC-45 tanker. A World Trade Organization panel has ruled that European nations did illegally subsidize Airbus programs, including the A-330. A separate WTO panel found in an interim ruling that Boeing also received illegal subsidies.

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