EADS asks Pentagon to extend tanker competition deadline

EADS North America has asked the Defense Department to extend the deadline for the tanker aircraft competition by 90 days, according to Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell.

In a statement, Morrell said that the Pentagon is “seriously considering the extension request from EADS.”

The deadline to submit bids for the $35 billion tanker contract currently is May 10. Another 90 days would push the deadline to mid-August.

“In keeping with our longstanding commitment to a fair and open competition, we continue to welcome proposals from all qualified bidders,” Morrell said in an e-mail statement. “A reasonable extension, were it granted, would certainly be in keeping with past practice.”

Morrell said that the Pentagon decides each request on a case-by-case basis and gave a few examples of recent competitions where the Pentagon did just that. The Broad Area Maritime System, the Littoral Combat Ship and the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles were among the examples Morrell provided.

Morrell’s statement comes after EADS announced Friday morning that it is considering competing for the Air Force's high-stakes tanker aircraft program as the principal contractor. But EADS said it would need a significant extension of the deadline to consider a bid as a prime contractor.

If EADS decides to compete, it will go head to head with Boeing. EADS, the parent company of Airbus, was partnered with Northrop Grumman for the competition, but Northrop decided to withdraw.

Boeing’s congressional supporters are already incensed over the possibility of an extension of the deadline to submit the bids.

“Unfortunately, this is typical of Airbus, who has continually worked to extend deadlines and change the rules in the middle of the game,” Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges —Dems, health groups demand immigrant children be quickly reunited with families White House releases sweeping proposal to reorganize government Democrats protest Trump's immigration policy from Senate floor MORE (D-Wash.), a defense appropriator, said in a statement Friday. “The Pentagon has gone through a fair and open process in putting out the RFP [request for proposals] and requesting bids. They shouldn't cave to more games from a foreign competitor.”

Update: UAC officials on Monday denied that they were planning to bid on the Air Force tanker contract. Their Los Angeles-based lawyer, Kirkland, on Monday released several documents to support his statements that UAC was going to enter a joint venture with an unnamed, but publicly traded, U.S. defense company, to vie for the multibillon dollar project.