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Congressman Dicks: Don’t Partner with EADS

The House of Representative’s top defense appropriator Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) said on Wednesday that he would rather not see U.S. companies partner with European defense conglomerate EADS to compete for the Air Force’s new refueling tanker.  “If they ask me, I am surely going to tell them what I think about it. I would hope that they wouldn’t,” said Rep. Dicks, Chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee and a vocal supporter of Boeing, EADS’ chief rival in the competition for the lucrative Air Force contract.

EADS North America is about to reveal whether or not they will bid on the contract, which could be worth $35 billion.  Last month, the contractor filed for a 90-day extension to the May 10th deadline to submit a bid.

The European contractor has reached out to some big names in the defense industry (like L-3 Communications and Raytheon) to build sensitive components for the tanker, but their participation is uncertain at this point.  Dicks told The Hill this Wednesday that while he would prefer that U.S. companies not partner with EADS North America, he stressed that “any company has to make these decisions on their own.”

Dicks said he would stop short of any legislative steps to prevent EADS from competing for the contract.  “I do not think that would be effective; I am not sure it would work,” Dicks said after a Wednesday lunch on Capitol Hill sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association.

EADS was originally expected to announce its decision this week, but that announcement has been put off for at least a week.

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