Obama Administration Asks To Delay Tanker Deal

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Obama administration has asked the Pentagon to make-do with the aging planes it already has; a request that puts yet another obstacle in the way for Boeing’s attempts to land the Air Force tanker deal.

Boeing and Airbus have been in a dog fight over who will build the next Air Force tanker.

“The administration is kind of backing off what it said earlier in the week. My guess is they didn’t want to get this story released and they’re getting a lot of push back, so they’re trying to calm the waters,” said U.S. Representative Jerry Moran.

The Air Force has been trying to get a contract in place to replace the aging KC-135 tankers for several years. The Air Force calls it their top procurement priority.

“I think when you consider that we’re flying airplanes that are more than 50 years old, we need to replace them. It’s the best thing for our crews. It’s the best thing for our country,” said U.S. Representative Todd Tiahrt.

A Northrup Grumman team won a contract to build a new tanker using an Airbus plane. But Boeing got the contract overturned. Both Kansas Congressmen are pushing for a Boeing-built plane and say that it would help the economy as well.

“We can’t say it’s the most important priority of the Air Force last year, then decide it’s not important enough to address for five years today,” said Rep. Moran.

Those who will ultimately come up short in this battle are those who fly the aging Eisenhower-era tankers, such as those at McConnell Air Force Base.

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