THE US Government has announced it is reopening bidding for a multi-billion pound US Air Force contract previously awarded to Airbus.
The announcement by the Department of Defense follows the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) decision to uphold a protest by the US planemaker Boeing that the Air Force “improperly awarded” the $35 billion (£17 billion) contract to Northrop Grumman and Airbus.
Boeing had complained about certain ‘flaws’ in the bidding process run by the US Air Force.
It means Boeing will now have the opportunity to re-bid for the lucrative contract a second time.
The news is a blow to Airbus’ ambitions to win more orders from the US defence market.
The company employs about 13,000 people in the UK of which 7,400 are in Broughton’s wing-making factory.
Airbus had been selected in March over American rival Boeing to build 179 KC-45A tankers, which are based on the A330.
At the time Airbus Broughton boss Brian Fleet said “The order is very important too for the hundreds of companies and thousands of workers in Airbus’ UK supply chain”.
Yesterday Airbus declined to comment.
The Pentagon is expected to decide by the end of the year who will be awarded the contract. It has taken over responsibility for the process from the Air Force.
But Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami blasted American politicians who he accuses of trying to scupper the deal for Airbus.
He said the decision to reopen the process had been influenced “by insular politicians who were serving the interests of Boeing”.
He added: “We have open and impartial bidding processes, so should the Americans. Airbus won this contract, yet insular American politicians have been pressing the GAO to reopen the bidding.
“This decision is purely aimed at placating those American politicians who serve the interests of Boeing.
“Airbus has the best product at the best price. The GAO’s claim that errors were made in the evaluation of the initial bids by Airbus and Boeing does not hold water. It is a poor excuse for giving the losers another chance.
“The Prime Minister is working to support the Airbus bid and I am confident that we will win the deal for a second time.”
A spokesman for Boeing said: “We welcome the decision by Defense Secretary Robert Gates not to proceed with the contract award to Northrop Grumman/EADS and to reopen the KC-X tanker competition.”