Boeing Co and Northrop Grumman Corp, the second- and third-largest US defence contractors, have submitted competing proposals to the US Air Force (USAF) for planes that will eventually replace its ageing fleet of KC-135 tankers.
A decision on the winner of the $40 billion contract will be taken "on or about" Jan. 31, Northrop said Thursday. Both the proposals are based on existing commercial aircraft.
The USAF plans to induct 179 new tankers to replace its Boeing-built KC-135 fleet, which has an average age of 44 years.
An earlier award to Boeing in 2004 was terminated after the USAF's second highest procurement official and Boeing's ex-chief financial officer were convicted of violating conflict-of-interest laws.
Northrop has teamed up with European aerospace giant, European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co (EADS) to compete for the work.
Boeing's KC-767 Advanced Tanker proposal is based on a military version of the company's 767 airliner. Boeing has proposed that the tanker be made in Everett, Wash., and flown to Wichita, Kan., for military modification.
Los Angeles-based Northrop, which is the lead partner in its pairing with EADS, is offering the KC-30 tanker, with which it hopes to break Boeing's 75-year monopoly on supplying fuel tankers to the US defence services. The Northrop-EADS offering is based on the A330-200 platform, made by Airbus. According to Northrop's proposal, their offering would be refitted with tanker equipment in Mobile, Alabama.