Boeing Confident About New Air Force Tanker Bid

LE BOURGET, France (AP) -- Boeing Co. said Tuesday it was confident in its chances to win the rematch with rival Airbus for a multibillion-dollar contract for refueling tankers for the U.S. Air Force.

Speaking at a presentation at the Paris Air Show, Boeing Vice President Dave Bowman, the head of air refueling tanker programs, said his team is "pumped and ready to rock" when the Air Force issues its request for offers in the coming weeks.

"I spent a lot of time over the last year going through everything our customer told us last time, all the lessons that we can get out of the last round and the communications we've had since then and we are applying these into a changed offering if that's what's needed," he said.

"We are ready for any acquisition strategy that we've heard about or seen and any set of requirements our customer wishes to value," Bowman said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates plans to restart this summer the troubled process to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of planes that gas up other jets mid-flight.

The Government Accountability Office faulted the Air Force's selection last year of a team composed of Northrop Grumman Corp. and Airbus parent European Aeronautics Defense and Space Co., saying the service had unfairly slanted the process against rival bidder Boeing.

Gates subsequently canceled the competition, the latest delay in almost a decade of failed attempts to build a new fleet of planes.

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