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Competition for Air Force Tanker Contract Fraught with Politics

Monday, Sept. 18, 2006

In a display of optimism for its prospects at landing a huge U.S. Air Force aerial refueling tanker contract, Northrop Grumman Corp. Sept. 13 hosted representatives of some 100 companies that could become suppliers to the company if it wins.

With a likely price tag of at least $20 billion to build a minimum of 100 refueling aircraft, the competition is fierce among defense contractors to land the order. As the only U.S.-based aircraft manufacturer, The Boeing Co. once looked to be a shoe-in for the contract. But now Northrop Grumman, partnering with the European firm that owns Airbus, is looking to take advantage of an opening provided by Boeing missteps over the last few years. ...

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