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Exactly who the partners are is unknown

No one suspected how the bidding war for one of the most lucrative contracts ever offered for military aircraft would play out when the U.S. started trying to replace its aging fleet of tanker aircraft years ago. The bidding process has been fraught with fighting and political maneuvering that has left the military with an insufficient fleet of tanker aircraft in service.

Northrop Grumman pulled out of the bidding process after claiming that the RFP heavily favored the competing Boeing aircraft leaving EADS alone without a U.S. partner for the bid. Boeing gloated and the Pentagon stated that it would continue forward with the bidding process even if there were only one bidder.

Eventually EADS came back to the table after the deadline for aircraft proposals was extended with a militarized version of its A330 built by Airbus. Later Boeing tried to play a national security card claiming that it had been hampered by foreign companies withholding material support and goods.

EADS has now announced that it has found U.S. partners for its bid to win the lucrative tanker contract. However, EADS is not stating who its U.S. partners are. EADS CEO Louis Gallois said, "We have the complete team of partners we needed for sensitive equipment but we don't give the names because we don't want to put them under pressure."

DefenseNews
 reports that EADS had previously been talking with Raytheon and L-3, but whether or not either of those firms has partnered with EADS is unknown at this point. EADS is feeling confident in its chances to win the contract and has previously stated that its aircraft has already undergone hundreds of hours of flight-testing and that its tanker has offloaded 290,000 pounds of fuel. At the same time, EADS points out that the Boeing offering dubbed "New Generation Tanker" is still only a paper design.

Gallois was also quick to point out that, "We see the nervousness of Boeing attacking us every day in the press. If we have no chance, why would they attack us?"





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