Published: 19 Mar 2010 18:00
NEW YORK - Russian state-owned aerospace group United Aircraft Corporation plans to bid for a U.S. Air Force tanker contract, teaming up with a U.S. partner, a lawyer representing UAC said March 19.
Russian firm UAC said March 19 it would bid on the U.S. Air Force contract to replace its refueling tanker fleet. Above, a KC-135 Stratotanker. (U.S. AIR FORCE)
"They're going to announce Monday [March 22] a joint venture with an American company to bid on the tanker program," attorney John Kirkland told Agence France-Presse.
Asked about the UAC announcement, DoD spokewoman Cheryl Irwin said, "We welcome all qualified bidders." Asked whether the Russian firm was qualified, she said, "I don't know."
Boeing is the only company that has announced it will bid for the $35 billion contract to supply the Air Force with 179 aerial refueling tankers.
EADS, the parent of Boeing's arch-rival Airbus, said it was considering a bid for the contract after the Pentagon signaled a flexible deadline to accommodate the European aerospace giant.
Just last week EADS was forced to withdraw from the bidding after its lead partner, U.S. defense contractor Northrop Grumman, refused to compete, alleging the requirements unfairly were skewed toward Boeing's smaller aircraft.
UAC was launched in 2006 under the administration of then-president Vladimir Putin.
The UAC move Friday coincided with talks in Moscow between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Putin, the Russian prime minister.
Putin lamented that bilateral trade had plummeted $20 billion in 2009 to $16 billion as a result of the economic crisis, although he said the economic potential of the U.S.-Russia partnership remained high.
"I appreciate you raising the economic relationship because we are committed to broadening and deepening ties between our two economies, our business leaders and investors," Clinton said.