EADS hopes to win work linked to US tankers-paper


European aerospace company EADS hopes it can win some work linked to replacing the U.S. Air Force’s refueling planes, a contract its U.S. rival Boeing won last month, the Financial Times reported.

Sean O’Keefe, head of EADS North America, told the newspaper that EADS believed it could bag contracts for specialised aircraft that have been traditionally built on the basic tanker platform, adding, however, it could be years before the U.S. Defense Department begins to put out any contracts.

Boeing built the last set of refuelling aircraft for the U.S. military in the 1950s and 1960s, based on its 707 commercial planes. Contracts that followed for specialised aircraft were developed around the same airframe, the FT said, reuters reports.
“Well shoot, we have got commercial aircraft that can fit those kind of requirements,” O’Keefe was quoted as saying.

Last month, EADS conceded defeat in a decade-long contest to sell aerial tankers to the Pentagon and said it would not protest the award of a $30 billion contract for 179 new refueling planes to Boeing.

The new KC-46 planes will replace the Air Force’s fleet of KC-135 tankers, which are about 50 years old on average.

O’Keefe said that, given the success of competition in driving down the overall cost of the tanker programme, the military could choose to open up certain future contracts to multiple bidders, the FT reported.

EADS estimates that Boeing cut its price by about $16 billion compared with bids in earlier rounds to be able to clinch the deal.