Officials Deplore Loss of Tanker Contract

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Alabama officials are blasting the Pentagon after Northrop Grumman decided to end its bid to build Air Force refueling tankers at a site in Mobile.

Gov. Bob Riley accused the Defense Department of intentionally rewriting the specifications for the $35 billion tanker contract, handing it to rival Boeing.

Northrop Grumman, in a partnership with the European firm EADS, had thought at one point that its design had won the contract.

Riley said the Pentagon switched to a slower, smaller and older refueling plane despite America's defense needs.

Cong. Jo Bonner of Mobile also decried what he called the Pentagon's bungling of the contract for a third time.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour issued the following statement concerning the decision by Northrop Grumman to not submit a bid for the U.S. Air Force’s next generation of aerial refueling tankers.

"It's a shame Northrop Grumman was compelled to pull out of the bidding on the Air Force tanker contract. The process used to choose the companies that build for the military should encourage competition instead of discouraging it. Sole-sourcing is not fair to America’s war fighters, the Air Force or the American taxpayer."

“I don’t blame Northrop Grumman for refusing to participate in what would have been a charade," said Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker. "The final RFP clearly stacked the deck for Boeing’s smaller, less capable plane. This is a regrettable result for the American taxpayer and for our national defense."

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