June 17, 2009

Boeing could use 777 in tanker bid

U.S. aviation giant Boeing said it would consider building a U.S. military fuel tanker out of the commercial 777 jet despite national security issues.

Construction of military equipment must be conducted in secured settings, meaning at least part of the construction of the commercial and military jets would need to be done in separate buildings, the Seattle Times reported Wednesday.

Dave Bowman, Boeing vice president of tanker programs, said the company was ready to build America's new tanker in whatever configuration and to whatever requirements the (government) desires.

Boeing won the $40 billion contract for building 179 flying tankers in 2001, but lost the bid in an acquisition scandal. Northrop Grumman with European partnership won the bid last summer but that was canceled after Boeing complained about the bidding process.

The Pentagon has said it would announce new requirements and procedures for the contract in July.

The contract is expected to balloon to more than twice the initial size with fresh orders for tankers in the future.

Pat Shanahan, vice president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said the company had a lot of space, at its facility in Everett, Wash.

We have lots of flexibility at the site to isolate the airplane, Shanahan said.