EADS North America has confirmed that the company could submit a proposal for the KC-X tanker contract as a prime contractor, although several concerns about the timing and fairness of the competition remain.

"EADS is assessing this new situation to determine if the company can feasibly submit a responsive proposal to the department's request for proposal," a statement issued by the company on 19 March says.

The announcement comes one day after a Department of Defense spokesman said the 10 May deadline for receiving proposals could be extended by a "reasonable" amount to allow EADS to bid.

Louis Gallois, EADS chief executive, also told reporters on 18 March that the current deadline would make it impossible for the company to submit a bid.

The company's new announcement, however, notes that several major concerns remain even if the proposal deadline is postponed.

The Pentagon has not addressed "EADS' underlying concerns that the RFP clearly favours a smaller, less capable aircraft, and that the additional combat capability offered by our system may not be fully valued", the company says.

EADS also requires a "significant extension" to the 10 May deadline if the company decides to submit a bid, the statement says.

Northrop Grumman had previously fronted a bid based on the EADS-owned Airbus A330, but the US prime contractor announced on 8 March its withdrawal over concerns about the RFP's fairness.

Both Northrop and EADS officials have complained since October that the revised KC-X evaluation process favors an aircraft smaller than the A330. Boeing has proposed a new version of the KC-767 called the NextGen Tanker.

The Pentagon declined to adjust evaluation requirements using the Boeing KC-135R's fuel offload capacity as the baseline for refuelling performance, as Northrop demanded. But the DoD did adjust the fixed-price contracting formula so that taxpayers would shoulder more of the financial risk in the event of cost overruns caused by factors other than inflation.

Source: Flight International