EADS North America has informed the Department of Defense the company will compete for the KC-X tanker deal as a prime contractor against Boeing.

The announcement by EADS NA Chairman Ralph Crosby on 20 February at the National Press Club comes six weeks after Northrop Grumman withdrew as prime contractor for the KC-45 over charges that the rules for the competitive evaluation were skewed in favour of Boeing.

But EADS decided that it would be "almost hypocritical" for the company to not submit a bid for the KC-45, which Crosby compared to Boeing's "paper" NewGen Tanker proposal based on the 767.

"When you got the best you got to offer it," Crosby says.

Both companies now have until 8 July to submit proposals. The USAF extended the previous 10 May deadline by about 60 days to accommodate EADS' bid.

EADS had reportedly discussed teaming arrangements with US-based primes such as L-3 Communications and Raytheon, but decided to submit a proposal on its own.

With former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott appearing at the press conference, EADS also announced 10 industrial members on its team, including General Electric, AAR Cargo, Eaton, GKN, Goodrich, Hamilton Sundstrand, Honeywell, RTI, Vought and Cobham.

EADS still plans to set up a modification facility in Mobile, Alabama, to convert the A330-200 into a tanker-transport. The configuration will be "almost the same" as the A330 multi-role tanker transport, which is now modified in Spain for several international customers.

"While we are disappointed in the bid submission delay, we hope for a fair and transparent competition free of any additional changes intended to accommodate a non-US prime contractor," says Boeing. "We are confident in the superior value and capabilities of our NewGen Tanker and intend to present a compelling case for it in our proposal."

Source: Flight International