Boeing Reviewing Options For Tanker Contract

Plane maker prepared to bid by May 10, but will ‘review all of our options for going forward’ while waiting for final decision on extension to Pentagon deadline.

CHICAGO (AP) -- Boeing said on Thursday that it is reviewing its options for bidding on a $35 billion contract to make Air Force tanker planes.

At the moment, Boeing Co. is the only announced bidder for what is expected to be a 179-plane order. But on Wednesday the Pentagon said it might extend the May 10 bidding deadline by two months to give European competitor EADS a chance to re-enter the process.

EADS and former partner Northrop Grumman pulled out of the bidding for the long-awaited contract last month.

Boeing said it is prepared to bid by May 10, but will "review all of our options for going forward" while waiting for a final decision on the deadline. A Boeing spokesman declined to say whether the company means it will bid later, or is considering not bidding at all, or some other possibility.

Boeing accused EADS of trying "to further delay this vital warfighting program and tilt the U.S. procurement process in its favor."

"We do not see a legitimate reason for EADS's bid deadline extension request, and we believe an extension that favors any individual competitor does not further the goal of ensuring fair competition," Boeing said in the written statement.

EADS and other critics of the Pentagon's bidding process have said the terms appeared designed to favor a smaller jet offered by Boeing.

Boeing shares rose 41 cents to $73.02 in afternoon trading.

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