European aerospace giant EADS has announced that it will go back to the negotiating table regarding the contract to supply the US with tanker jets, if the Pentagon tender rules gave it a chance of success against US rival Boeing.
AFP - European aerospace giant EADS may submit a new offer to supply the US air force with tanker jets if revised Pentagon tender rules give it a fair chance of success, the firm said Friday.
Last week, EADS angrily pulled out of the race for the 35-billion-dollar (26-billion-euro) contract to supply 179 tanker planes, alleging the Pentagon had skewed its requirements to favour its US rival Boeing.
The decision triggered a diplomatic storm, with European officials accusing the United States of protectionism. The Defence Department said Thursday that it might extend the deadline for bids to allow a revised EADS offer.
"This is a significant development. EADS is assessing this new situation to determine if the company can feasibly submit a responsive proposal to the department's request for proposal," a statement said.
"An important pre-requisite for our consideration of entry into this competition will be a significant extension to the period within which to prepare and submit a proposal," he said.
The firm also complained that the Pentagon had not addressed its concerns that current rules favour "a smaller, less capable aircraft, and that the additional combat capability offered by our system may not be fully valued."
The A330 MRTT aircraft produced by EADS subsidiary Airbus can carry more fuel over a greater distance than its US-built Boeing rival and in 2008 the US air force had expressed its preference for the model.
But since then, the well-connected US giant has lobbied for the bidding process to be reopened under new rules, which EADS and German and French officials allege were altered to suit the Boeing aircraft.
"EADS welcomes the Department of Defence's recent statement which indicated a willingness to extend the timeframe," the company said.
"Though this is essential, it is only one factor in making a decision for EADS to compete. In the end, the company will only submit a proposal if there is a fair chance to win, after evaluating all relevant factors."
On Thurday, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the department -- having been informed by EADS of its possible interest in the contract -- "would consider a reasonable extension to the ... deadline."
He was speaking after EADS chief executive Louis Gallois told reporters that his firm would be unable to produce a revised bid within a 60-day timeline.
Date created : 2010-03-19