EADS and Northrop
Grumman are reported to be in negotiations to compete against
Boeing for the next generation of refueling tankers. The two
companies have reportedly been in negotiations for months, and a
partnership announcement could come in the next few weeks.
EADS has been seeking a US site to build a plant to boost its
chances in the tanker competition. Thirty two states have shown
interest according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
"This is a major threat to Boeing's efforts to sell its
jetliners to the U.S. military," said Richard Aboulafia, senior
aerospace analyst at the Teal Group to the Post-Dispatch. "Boeing
should be concerned. It would be painful to lose this market."
"We look forward to the competition," said Boeing spokesman,
Doug Kennett. He said Boeing would not back down in the contest for
the tanker contract or for other contracts.
Having a domestic US plant and an American partner is seen as
critical by EADS for this competition. "We need the complementary
industrial capacity to be successful in competing," said Guy Hicks,
EAD spokesman. "And you need an American partner, because when you
get beyond the airframe, you have all the potential classified or
highly confidential components that are necessary in this kind of
The prospect of the two companies getting together has created a
stir with members of Congress.
"They want us to think they're an American company, so they can
get contracts for U.S. military planes," said Sen. Patty Murray,
D-Wash to the Post Dispatch. "I'll tell you what - not on my
Murray stated that Airbus
would not deliver the jobs that are promised, but Hicks claimed,
"If we're successful in the tanker competition, this will be an
American plane, built by an American industrial team." Hicks said
that 1,200 workers would build the tankers in a $600 million plant
built in one of 32 states.
Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., said that among legislators, "there is a
lot of distrust about whether this means a straightforward and
substantial investment in jobs in the United States, or if this is
a sham attempt to look like an American company while keeping
everything in Europe."