Air Force Picks Foreign Bid to Build Tankers

Northrop Grumman and Airbus will build $40B fleet in France
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 29, 2008 9:49 PM CST
In this image provided by the Boeing Aircraft Company the second KC-767 aerial refueling tanker slated for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force takes off on its first flight Nov. 18, 2007 from Wichita, Kansas....   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – 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. (Read more Boeing stories.)