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Senator Vows to Fight Airbus-Northrop Tanker Deal

Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, a Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, on Tuesday vowed to fight funding for a $35 billion aerial refueling tanker deal awarded to Northrop Grumman and its European partner EADS, the parent of Airbus.

Brownback and some other senators have expressed outrage that the contract went to a team including EADS, instead of Boeing, raising concerns about the loss of U.S. jobs.

Boeing would have built its 767 tanker in Washington state and modified it for military use in Kansas.

"I don't think it's smart. I think it's the wrong thing to do. I'm going to fight against this in appropriations," Brownback said, referring to his role as a member of the powerful Senate panel which controls funding for the Pentagon and other federal agencies.

Shares of Northrop Grumman were down about 3 percent Tuesday. Boeing shares lost about 2 percent.

Boeing Asks for Sit-Down with Air Force

Boeing Co said on Tuesday it has requested an immediate briefing from the U.S. Air Force on the company's failed bid for the tanker contract.

Boeing said the Air Force had planned a briefing with Boeing on or after March 12, but the company said that delay was inconsistent with procurement practices.

The Chicago-based company said it was concerned with initial reports on the contract award process, which indicate that Boeing was considered the higher risk bidder.

"We do not understand how Boeing could be determined the higher risk offering," said Mark McGraw, vice president of Boeing's 767 tanker programs, in a statement. "It's important for us to understand how the Air Force reached their conclusion."

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