21
Mar
10

Will Russia sell tankers to US Air Force?

Unbelievable! Russian company United Aircraft entered US bid for a $40 billion tanker contract. Imagine US Air Force flying in Russian tanker aircrafts. Funny, no?  The end of the cold war?

United Aircraft, a Russian government owned aerospace corporation, plans to bid for a $40 billion tanker contract of Pentagon.

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Tanker Contract, one of the biggest and controversial contracts of Pentagon, was introduced to build new aerial refueling tankers for U.S. Air Force.

United Aircraft, formed in February 2006, planned to enter the race for Pentagon contract 11 days after Northrop Grumman withdrew its bid. It offers a tanker version of Ilyushin Il-96, a wide-body jetliner.

Russian joint venture
According to John Kirkland, a Los Angeles-based lawyer and a representative of the group, United Aircraft is likely to announce a joint venture with American defense contractor on Monday. The contractor would not be a famous one.

“The Defense Department remains committed to a fair and open competition and welcomes proposals from all qualified offerers.” — Bryan G. Whitman, Pentagon spokesman

Russia’s joint venture is supposed to be named as UAC America. It would build planes in Russia and compile them in U.S.

The Russian government is the biggest shareholder in United Aircraft Corporation.

According to some officials, the Russian deal is likely to face criticism as there are very few users of its equipment as compared to Boeing, another bidder for the contract.

Bryan G. Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman told The Washington Post “The Defense Department remains committed to a fair and open competition and welcomes proposals from all qualified offerers.”

A decade long fight for tanker contract
Since 2001, it is the third attempt of U.S. Air Force to replace its old tankers with the new ones. Earlier, Northrop Grumman and Boeing bid for the deal.

Northrop Grumman together with Airbus, a Paris based European Aeronautics Defense and Space (EADS) Company, contested for the deal. But they withdrew their bid few weeks ago. They alleged that the proposal favored Boeing’s 767 smaller planes than Grumman’s larger Airbus A330.

Due to ethics scandal, Boeing lost the deal in 2004. In 2008, the contract was won by Northrop but Boeing fought and the contract was cancelled. In September 2009, Pentagon again made a bid for the deal. But in December, Northrop admonished that it would quit if Air Force did not change the proposal. Finally, it left the deal few weeks before.

EADS plans to rejoin
EADS plans to rejoin the contest for the deal once again after its partner Northrop Grumman left the deal. It requested Pentagon for an extension of three months from its deadline, May 10.

It neglected the fact that the proposal required smaller aircrafts.

Pentagon gave indications for a reasonable extension of time for the deal.

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