Frankfurt: European aerospace and defence giant, EADS, has said a decision to bid for a contract for aerial tankers for the US Air Force will most likely be made within the next two to three weeks. The Pentagon, meanwhile, conformed Tuesday it remained in active talks with EADS on extending the 10 May deadline for aerial tanker bids.
"We can say that the decision on whether we will bid will likely be made within the next two to three weeks," Thomas Enders, chief executive of EADS's Airbus aircraft division, was quoted as saying by Financial Times Deutschland on Monday.
"The Pentagon has asked us to examine whether we want to make a bid, this time in a prime contractor role," Enders added.
In the last bid just over two years ago, Northrop Grumman Corp and EADS beat out Boeing but defence secretary Robert Gates cancelled the award after government auditors upheld a Boeing protest. In a previous beat the contract was awarded to Boeing but that too was overturned after officials from Boeing and the defence department were found guilty of adopting unfair practices.
In the current round, Northrop walked out of the bidding process claiming the new guidelines set out for the current round of bidding were loaded in favour of Boeing's smaller 767 offering. The decision left Boeing as the sole contender in the field for the contract.
Apart from creating a monopoly situation for Boeing, the Pentagon was also faced with a storm of protest from European nations that it had consciously skewed the proposal in favour an American company. A jittery Pentagon offered to extend the deadline for submitting bids should EADS be interested in offering bids on its own, or in conjunction with any other partner.
American companies are the main players in the European defence market and would hate to experience retaliatory action.