Northrop Grumman, which lobbied North Carolina lawmakers to support its bid for a $35 billion Air Force tanker contract, announced today that it won't compete for the business.
The company decided it didn't think it could win the contract to build refueling tankers because the Pentagon's guidelines for the program “clearly favors Boeing's smaller refueling tanker,” Northrop CEO Wes Bush said in a statement.
Northrop officials launched a lobbying blitz in this state last month, meeting with lawmakers and running ads that claimed the company and its suppliers would create hundreds of jobs here if it won the contract. The company planned to build the refueling tankers in Alabama, but would require more work from contractors with N.C. operations such as General Electric, Allvac and AAR Cargo Systems.
Its decision to back out makes rival Boeing the likely winner for the contract, which is scheduled to be awarded in September.
The Pentagon defended the program as fair and said both companies could compete effectively. Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman told the Associated Press that the program would not be reworked just to ensure a competition.
“To suggest that the department should conduct a competition that would result in DOD paying a much higher price for capabilities that are not needed simply isn't effective,” Whitman said.