US, Euro Alliance Landed Air Force Deal for Airbus

$40B contact took years of careful planning
By Laurel Jorgensen,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2008 4:00 AM CST
In this photo released by the US Department of Defense a B-2 Spirit multi-role bomber conducts air refueling operations with a KC-135 Stratotanker over the Pacific on April 4, 2005. The Air Force on Friday...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Years of careful strategy and an alliance between executives was the key to Airbus nailing a $40 billion deal to build Air Force planes, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Pentagon’s decision last week is “a transformational shift in the way weapons systems are acquired. It’s an acknowledgment that globalization is real," said Ralph Crosby Jr., the top US executive for Airbus parent EADS.

The determined working relationship between Crosby, a French-speaking West Point grad, and former Northrup Grumman aircraft systems chief Scott Seymour is largely credited with landing the deal. Boeing was favored to win the contract, but Pentagon officials liked the versatility of Airbus’ refueling tanker, which can carry 7,000 more gallons of fuel and 30 more people than the Boeing aircraft. The deal could open the path to a fortune in other contracts for the companies from the international defense community.