Boeing favored to win huge contract

Feb. 13, 2008 at 2:18 PM
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CHICAGO, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Boeing Co. executives are "cautiously optimistic" the U.S. Air Force will accept their bid in a $125 billion sweepstakes that may be decided by February 22.

Mark McGraw, Boeing's vice president for tanker programs, said the Chicago-headquartered aerospace giant is "cautiously optimistic about its chances" the Air Force will choose Boeing to refurbish as many as 530 aging 767s to be used as tanker jets, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.

The contract could provide a company gain of $1.4 billion a year after taxes, an industry analyst said.

The rival bid was submitted by a team of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. and Northrop Grumman Corp.

"I'd say we're very competitive," Paul Meyer, a Northrop sector president told the newspaper.

Boeing said refurbishing a fleet of KC-767s would save the Air Force $15 billion in fuel costs and 22 percent in maintenance costs.

But, Northrop-EADS offering a larger aircraft, said the Airbus A330, turned into KC-330s, would hold 24 percent more fuel and 21 percent more cargo than refurbished 767s.

The decision could be made by Feb. 22, the report said. "It points to Boeing," said industry analyst Howard Rubel, "but everyone was favoring the (New England) Patriots, too."

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