The decision on whether Boeing or European plane-maker EADS will build the U.S. Air Force's next generation refueling tanker could come at anytime.
On Friday, both companies submitted final proposals to build the aircraft. The initial contract for 179 planes is worth at least $35-40 billion.
This decision is critical to America’s national security and its manufacturing base,” said Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney. “Our best-of-Boeing team has offered the most capable and fuel-efficient tanker that will enable the U.S. Air Force to continue serving as the world’s finest air refueling provider without breaking future defense budgets.”
Boeing says it would create 50,000 jobs nationwide. While many of the jobs would be in the Pacific Northwest, several hundred would be in Wichita. Boeing's proposal is a modified 767.
EADS, the parent company of Airbus, would build its tanker in Mobile, Alabma. EADS promises to create 48,000 American jobs. It's entry is a modified A330.
It's taken more than a decade just to award the contract to replace the approx. 600 Eisenhower-era planes. Boeing won the contract originally, but the contract was thrown out in an ethics scandal. EADS won the next bid in 2008, but Boeing challenged it and force another competition.
Some analysts say EADS is the frontrunner because it can underbid Boeing due to European subsidies. They also say Boeing appears ready to consider another formal protest if EADS wins the contract.
The Pentagon is expected to award the contract in the coming weeks. It has called the tanker its No. 1 purchase priority for years.