By Roxana Tiron - 03/19/10 11:53 PM EDT
In yet another twist to the Air Force tanker aircraft competition, the Russian state-owned aerospace group, United Aircraft Corporation, plans to bid for the contract, according to media reports.
The news of a new competitor for the high-stakes contract comes just hours after EADS North America said that it was considering bidding for the tanker as a principal contractor without former partner Northrop Grumman. Northrop Grumman which was partnered with EADS, announced March 8 it was pulling out of the competition, practically leaving rival Boeing as the sole bidder.
UAC is expected to announce on Monday a joint venture with a U.S. company to bid on the tanker program, attorney John Kirkland, who represents UAC, told Agence France Presse.
The Russian announcement Friday coincided with talks between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. UAC was launced in 2006 when Putin was the Russian president.