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Booms Away! Airbus MRTT Losses Part Of Refueling Boom In Flight

Company Says Cause Is Not Yet Clear

As the announcement for the awarding of a contract for a new Air Force tanker nears, Airbus has suffered what some analysts are calling a setback in the $35 billion program.

File Photo

An MRTT tanker involved in training off the coast of Portugal reportedly lost a large portion of one of its refueling booms in flight, according to the New York Times. The tanker, which is the same type as Airbus has proposed for the KC-X contract, was set for delivery to the Australian Air Force. The accident damaged both the tanker and a Portuguese F-16 fighter, and the piece which broke off fell into the ocean. Both aircraft landed safely.

Airbus spokesperson Guy Hicks told the paper that it was too early to say whether the incident would affect the competition to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of KC-135 tankers. The primary candidates for the contract are EADS/Airbus and Boeing. Each has its supporters in Congress, and it's pretty unlikely that one incident is likely to sway very many votes.



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