Statement Issued On US Refueling Tanker Program
The European Commission said in a
statement Tuesday that the decision by Northrop Grumman / EADS not
to submit a bid to the US Department of Defense for the US Air
Force's aerial refueling tanker contract is unfortunate.
"It is highly regrettable that a major potential supplier would
feel unable to bid for a contract of this type. Open procurement
markets guarantee better competition and better value for money for
the taxpayer," stated EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.
In February 2008, Northrop Grumman / EADS was selected and
awarded the contract to provide aerial refueling tankers for the US
Air Force in a fair and transparent competition. The EC said that
was a positive sign for free and open competition across the
Atlantic. They said it also seemed to indicate that successful bids
are possible when European industry teams up with US industry and
they are allowed to compete fairly. This award was subsequently
cancelled at the end of 2008. In December 2009, Northrop Grumman /
EADS expressed serious concerns to the Department of Defense and
the US Air Force on the proposed acquisition criteria for the
The European Commission says it would be extremely
concerned if it were to emerge that the terms of tender were such
as to inhibit open competition for the contract.
The EC cites the US defense trade balance with the EU, which
they contend has traditionally been significantly in the US'
favor. In 2008 the US exported $5 billion and imported only $2.2
billion worth of defense material, in line with a historic ratio of
double exports to imports.
The Commission says it will be following further
developments in this case very closely.