Obama pledges fair competition for tanker contract
US President Barack Obama said the awarding of the lucrative contract to build the next generation of Air Force refuellers will be fair if the European manufacturer EADS decides to bid against rival Boeing.
Speaking with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the White House, Obama said he has received assurances from Defence Secretary Robert Gates that there will be no favoritism for the US bidder, dpa reported.
"The rebidding process is going to be completely transparent, completely open, and a fair competition," Obama said, while saying he will not "meddle" in the decision.
Sarkozy said he raised the issue with Obama during the meeting and was satisfied the process will be fair, and it would encourage EADS to submit a bid for the 35-billion-dollar contract to build the first 179 planes.
The Pentagon plans to award a contract to replace the ageing fleet of KC-135s, which has been in disarray for years. EADS and its US partner Northrop Grumman won the contract, but Boeing successfully protested the outcome, prompting the Pentagon to revoke the decision and reopen the competition.
But Northrop pulled out of the process earlier this month, accusing the Pentagon of favoring Boeing. EADS has expressed an interest in bidding on its own and has asked the Pentagon to postpone a May 10 deadline for submitting proposals.