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Thu, Feb 07, 2008

Boeing, EADS Employ 'Guerilla' Marketing For KC-X

Competitors Turn To E-Mail, Quips In Bid For Deal

The bids have been in for over a month... and no word yet on which way the contract will fall. Will the US Air Force choose the Northrop Grumman/EADS KC-30, or Boeing's KC-767 for its KC-X Tanker contract?

As ANN reported, final bids were turned in January 3 by both Boeing and EADS, and now the wait is on to see which plan the Defense Department will choose. And while neither company is allowed to directly solicit the Air Force while the bids are under consideration, the battle has evolved to a "guerrilla marketing" campaign -- in not-so-covert efforts to get around communication restrictions between bidders and deciding officials.

Tactics employed by both parties include "sending blast e-mails to reporters and trade journals widely read by Air Force officials and by advertising in specialty publications, on buses and subways and local radio stations," reports The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Special publications aimed at Congressional staff and leaders in Washington, such as "The Hill," have been on the receiving end of full page ads from both parties (as have ANN inboxes -- Ed.) Radio airwaves and Metro subway stops are also not immune to the fight for the estimated $40 billion contract.

Both sides aim to show off all positive points of their tankers, including low technical risk. As ANN reported, Boeing recently issued a report proclaiming the KC-767 tanker had conducted its first-ever nighttime refueling. Boeing spokesman William Barksdale praised the development as a "huge" step for the advanced tanker.

The announcement prompted Northrop Grumman spokesman Randy Belote to quickly blast an email, stating "One would hope that, after more than five years, they have made some progress." Northrop Grumman and European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company state the KC-767 is the riskier approach for the Air Force, citing failed delivery goals of tankers for Japan and Italy.

EADS officials have also slammed Boeing in the court of public opinion for its use of components from several different 767 variants in constructing the KC-767... in the hopes Air Force officials may come to look upon the US-sourced Boeing plane as something of a mongrel, and the Airbus-based KC-30 as a purebred.

Boeing is offering a version of its 767 commercial airliner, modified for use as a tanker able to carry three times more cargo and passengers than the current KC-135 used by the USAF. The Northrop Grumman/EADS-proposed KC-30 is designed to refuel Navy and coalition aircraft, and to serve as a multi-role transport aircraft to move passengers, cargo and medical evacuation patients -- whereas Boeing's plane, while offering some additional capabilities, is primarily a refueler.

FMI: www.boeing.com/ids, www.kc30.com

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