The Pentagon said Tuesday it has yet to decide whether to grant a request from European aerospace giant EADS to extend a deadline to bid on a contract for a new aerial refueling tanker.
“We are right now engaged in active discussions with the company to better understand the reasons why they would need an extension, why they would want an extension,” press secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters.
“I would say those conversations are going very well thus far,” he said. But he added: “we have not come to a conclusion and therefore have not made a decision yet about whether to extend the bidding period any further.”
Last week, the Defense Department said it would consider “a reasonable extension” to the May 10 bidding deadline after EADS signaled it may reenter the contest for the 35-billion-dollar program.
The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company had asked for a 90-day extension.
EADS was forced to withdraw from the bidding after its lead partner, US defense contractor Northrop Grumman, dropped out of the competition.
Northrop’s exit from the contest left the field open to Boeing, arch-rival of EADS subsidiary Airbus.
Northrop had alleged the requirements for the project were unfairly skewed in favor of Boeing’s smaller aircraft.
Morrell said the Pentagon had “received no formal communication” from Russia’s state-owned United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) for a possible bid on the tanker contract.
US-based attorney John Kirkland had told several media outlets over the weekend that UAC would announce a joint venture Monday with a US company to participate in the bidding.
But United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) said it had no plans to bid for the contract to build a new fleet of aerial tankers for the US Air Force.