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Will Boeing Bow Out Of Tanker "Wars"?

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Aviation Week is reporting that Boeing is "strongly considering" not participating in the next round of bids for the air refueling tanker.

"Multiple sources familiar with Boeing’s internal discussions say company officials are strongly considering the option of not submitting a proposal," the publication reports, "as the company’s Integrated Defense Systems sector tries to respond to the draft RFP within the government’s speedy timeline. Comments are due this week."

This is not the first time someone has threatened to stop playing and go home. Last year, Northrop Grumman threatened to withdraw from the competition when it didn't feel it was being given a fair shot. The Air Force then went out of its way to "level the playing field," (too much out of its way, if you ask Boeing). Perhaps Boeing is hoping for a similar "leveling," especially since the new Pentagon request seems to favor the larger, Northrop/EADS tanker.

In any case, if Boeing truly drops out, that would leave the Pentagon without a competition, and Congress wouldn't like that.

Still, Aviation Week reports, "It remains unclear if a no-bid position from Boeing would drag out the KC-X competition or it if would compel the Pentagon to attempt a sole-source of the work to Northrop Grumman/EADS."

Boeing's Dan Beck says he can't comment one way or the other on the Aviation Week story. He says Boeing has submitted its response to the Pentagon's request, and will be meeting with defense officials tomorrow to "voice our opinions" about the new proposal.

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