Boeing has warned the Pentagon it will pull out of the new bidding to build a fleet of air tankers unless it gets an extra four months to prepare a bid, the Wall Street Journal reports. A Boeing pullout would leave the Air Force with no competition for a $35 billion contract to replace 179 aging refueling planes.
The Air Force's jinxed effort to replace its tanker fleet has been dragging on since 2003. The Pentagon put out the contract for rebidding after Boeing complained that the first round was awarded unfairly to a joint venture by Northrop and European partner EADS, and the GAO agreed. But the specifications for rebidding call for a higher fuel capacity, forcing Boeing, to be competitive, to use a larger plane as the base for the tanker.