Sep 11 2008

Shelby: Defense Department to cancel bidding on tanker

Birmingham News

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby said today that the Department of Defense plans to announce it is canceling a new round of bidding on the tanker replacement program that could have seen the aircraft assembled in Alabama. The move effectively postpones the decision until a new administration takes office.

"It is unacceptable that the Department of Defense would abdicate its responsibility to our men and women in uniform," Shelby said in a statement issued this morning.

"This misguided decision clearly places business interests above the interests of the warfighter. We are a nation at war, sending our pilots into battle on planes that are largely older than they are. This approach is irresponsible, shortsighted and harmful to both the warfighter and the nation."

Northrop Grumman and EADS won an Air Force contest to build the tankers and planned to assemble the planes at a plant in Mobile with at least 1,500 jobs. Boeing Co. challenged the decision, touching off a political firestorm.