EADS has confirmed that it is re-assessing its earlier decision to not bid as a prime contractor on the USAF’s long running KC-X tanker replacement program after the Pentagon said it would consider an extension to the bid deadline.
In a March 19 statement EADS said it “is assessing this new situation to determine if the company can feasibly submit a responsive proposal to the Department’s request for proposal (RFP),” but added that it still had “underlying concerns that the RFP clearly favours a smaller, less capable aircraft, and that the additional combat capability offered by our system may not be fully valued.”
The Pentagon said it would welcome a bid from EADS, with spokesman Geoff Morell telling US media that “Consistent with our commitment to conduct a fair and open competition, the department invites proposals from all qualified contractors and, if necessary, we would consider a reasonable extension to the RFP deadline.”
EADS has reportedly requested a 90 day extension to the RFP submission deadline in order to prepare its Airbus A330 based proposal, which would be an evolution of the RAAF’s KC-30.
And in an interesting if somewhat bizarre twist to the competition, a report in the Wall Street Journal on March 19 suggested that Russia’s United Aircraft might make a twin engine Ilyushin Il-96 based bid in partnership with a US company and facilitated by a Los Angeles based corporate lawyer. “The Il-96 meets every single one of the final RFP requirements, and it comes in at a lower price, so if it’s a fair competition, we win,” said lawyer John Kirkland.
But United Aircraft CEO Alexei Fyodorov has dismissed the report, claiming it is “utter nonsense”. “UAC is not planning to take part in the tanker tender or set up a joint venture,” he told Bloomberg News in a March 21 interview.