Statement on Pentagon's Possible Extension of Bidding Deadline in Tanker Competition

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released the following statement on the Pentagon’s announcement that it will extend the tanker request-for-proposal deadline by 60-days if Europe’s EADS consortium decides to bid:


“I see no reason why a 60-day extension in the bidding deadline is necessary, but I am more concerned that the Pentagon’s proposal request does not account for the roughly $5 billion in illegal subsidies that European nations provided for the commercial aircraft that EADS is likely to use in a bid for the long overdue tanker contract.


“Earlier this month, the World Trade Organization determined that each and every alleged instance of Launch Aid subsidies to Airbus violated international trade rules. Among the planes funded by illegal subsidies is the Airbus 330 aircraft, which is the likely EADS’ tanker platform.  EADS should not be allowed to submit a bid with a tanker that was developed with the benefit of illegal subsidies.  That would be like trying to land a plane on a crooked runway. 


“We cannot have a foreign subsidized plane low-balling its bid in a competition for one of the largest Defense contracts in U.S. history.  With so much at stake, the tanker competition must take place on a level playing field.


“Pentagon officials have told me that even if the deadline is extended by 60 days to accommodate an EADS bid, the selection of a contract winner will still take place by the end of this year.  It is important not to delay this program any further.  The tankers in use today, including those based at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington state, are in many cases older than the pilots flying them.  It’s past time to act.”


Senator Cantwell’s previous statements on the tanker can be found here (March 23, 2010) and here (February 23, 2010), and her statement on the interim WTO ruling can be found here (September 4, 2009).