A Russian company said Friday it plans to enter a bid to build a new aerial refueling tanker for the U.S. Air Force, adding yet another twist to the long-running saga of the Pentagon's attempts to award one its biggest and most controversial weapons contracts.
United Aircraft, a holding company for several Russian aerospace firms, is expected to announce Monday a joint venture with an American defense contractor, according to John Kirkland, a Los Angeles-based lawyer representing the group. Kirkland would not name the U.S. contractor, saying only that it is "not one of the three or four major defense companies." United Aircraft's biggest shareholder is the Russian government, Kirkland said.
The announcement of the Russians' entry into the contest comes 11 days after Northrop Grumman dropped out of bidding for the $40 billion contract. Northrop had partnered with Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS) to compete against Chicago-based Boeing. But Northrop said it felt that the competition favored Boeing's smaller 767 aircraft.
I'd laugh at the very idea, except for this lil bit o' politically-correct bullshit:
Bryan G. Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Defense Department "remains committed to a fair and open competition and welcomes proposals from all qualified offerers."
He said the Pentagon is considering the request from EADS to extend the due date for proposals.The very idea that USAF would fly Russian tankers is beyond ludicrous. It's just frickin' silly. As is the idea we would outsource the manufacture of mission critical airframes to any foreign supplier, including EADS.