ST. LOUIS, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. company Boeing has beaten Europe's EADS for the contract to build the next-generation aerial refueling tanker aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.
Under the award announced late Thursday, Boeing will design, develop, manufacture and deliver 18 initial combat-ready tankers by 2017. The deal is worth an estimated $35 billion.
In all, 179 of the Air Force's KC-135 tanker fleet will eventually be replaced.
"We're honored to be given the opportunity to build the Air Force's next tanker and provide a vital capability to the men and women of our armed forces," said Jim McNerney, Boeing chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Our team is ready now to apply our 60 years of tanker experience to develop and build an airplane that will serve the nation for decades to come."
Boeing's NewGen Tanker is based on the company's 767 commercial aircraft. It is a wide-body, multi-mission aircraft updated with the latest and most advanced technology and capable of meeting or exceeding the Air Force's needs for transport of fuel, cargo, passengers and patients, the company said.