Miss. officials decry loss of tanker contract

Mississippi officials expressed both disappointment and disgust with a Pentagon process that prompted Northrop Grumman Corp. to drop out of the competition for an Air Force refueling tanker contract.

The Northrop proposal had set off a celebration along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the Mobile, Ala., area, where some 2,000 jobs would be created to help build the aircraft.

But the large design of the Northrop tanker fell out of favor over the past two years as rival Boeing Co. kept up the pressure for its own smaller model. The Defense Department redid the contract’s specifications and Northrop Grumman announced Monday that it won’t compete, leaving Boeing the lone bidder.
Northrop CEO Wes Bush said the new guideline “clearly favors Boeing’s smaller refueling tanker.”

AP
3/9/10