The Air Force shocked observers yesterday by handing a $40 billion contract to build aerial refueling tankers to a foreign company, the Los Angeles Times reports. Northrop Grumman and Airbus—which plan to build the 179 tankers in France—beat out Washington state's Boeing. Outraged lawmakers from Washington state called the move “a blow to the American aerospace industry," the New York Times reports.
Boeing is expected to appeal the decision and likely prolong plans to revive America's aging fleet of aerial gas stations. The decision comes after nearly a decade of searching, setbacks, and scandal. An early deal to replace the Eisenhower-era tankers with Boeing planes sparked a Congressional probe that led to prison terms for two Boeing execs.