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EADS to bid on US air tanker deal against Boeing

USAF HC-130P refuels a HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter in the sky. A file photo

WASHINGTON (AFP): European aerospace giant EADS announced it will bid on a lucrative deal to supply the US Air Force with new aerial refueling tankers, taking on its archrival Boeing.

EADS, the parent of Airbus, will make an offer as the lead contractor, having lost its US partner Northrop Grumman six weeks ago, officials said.

Chief executive officer Louis Gallois said the company wanted to expand in the American defence market, long dominated by Boeing and other US firms.

"We want to increase our presence in the United States," Gallois said.

EADS had faced a dilemma after Northrop Grumman dropped out of the competition, amid speculation executives had tried but failed to line up another American partner to take Northrop's place.

Other US firms, including General Electric, Honeywell, Hamilton Sunstrand and Goodrich, would serve as sub-contractors for EADS, officials told reporters in Washington.

"At no point, do we envision going it alone. We've got a substantial number of teammates and partners that we're in pursuit here with," said Sean O'Keefe, CEO of EADS North America.

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