Aerospace & Defense News - Defense Europe.


Oct 25, 2009

Airbus, Northrop Grumman

Politicians along the nation's Gulf Coast are teaming up with other southern lawmakers to promote a bid by European defense giant EADS to build a new aerial refueling tanker for the Air Force. Republican governors Bob Riley (Ala.), Haley Barbour (Miss.), and Bobby Jindal (La.) joined Monday with executives from Northrop Grumman and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. to boost the Aerospace Alliance -- an advocacy group that is pinning its hopes for a new multi-state aerospace corridor on a successful bid by those companies against Boeing in the looming $35 billion tanker competition. Riley sought to put an American stamp on the bid by EADS bid, which plans to manufacture the tanker in Mobile, Ala. "Our first initiative is to win the KC-45 tanker; our first lesson is geography -- Mobile, Alabama and the Gulf Coast States are part of the U.S., and our jobs are American," Riley said. Members of the Florida congressional delegation, including Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and Rep. Allen Boyd (D), who is on the House Appropriations Defense Subcommtitee, touted the importance of the aerospace industry to Northwest Florida as well, but they stayed away from talk of tankers. "Coupled with the recent announcement by Southwest Airlines of service to the new international airport in Northwest Florida, the formation of this alliance demonstrates a growing momentum that places the region and its assets center stage," said Nelson, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The Aerospace Alliance scored lobbying representation from DC Navigators in Washington, according to Senate lobbying records. The firm is organized as a 501(c)(6) -- a type of nonprofit group that, like chambers of commerce, does not have to disclose its donors and has no limits on lobbying, according to Brett Kappel, counsel for Arent Fox LLP. EADS, the parent company of Airbus, won the tanker competition last year, but the Air Force's decision was overturned after the Government Accountability Office upheld a protest by Boeing; a new competition restarted in September. It took the government months to finally release a draft of its bid specifications, and the companies are just beginning to present more details about their reactions to the new specs. The Alabama congressional delegation, which supports the EADS bid, shot out a blistering letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday, outlining several concerns with the new...

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