Boeing is under threat from a US House Appropriations Committee report urging the US Air Force to select either the Chicago-based manufacturer or Lockheed Martin to launch military satellites under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) programme, "rather than underfund both" in a dual programme.

Boeing is still seen as vulnerable after the scandal over its use of Lockheed Martin data for its EELV bid. The results of a study by USAF undersecretary Peter Teets are expected later this year, but Teets says that Boeing's EELV launches are grounded until 2005 pending the completion of the investigations into the Lockheed Martin affair.

A decision has to be made next year on ordering the 20-vehicle batch three EELV fleet.

However, with Boeing planning to test and operate the Delta IV Heavy - the most powerful EELV - later this year and with 133 military launches expected in the next 20 years, the duopoly could be left in place.

Source: Flight International