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Tanker Competition Enters the Realm of the Absurd

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Thank you, Russia:

Russian state-owned aerospace group United Aircraft Corp. plans to bid for a U.S. Air Force tanker contract, teaming up with a U.S. partner, a lawyer representing UAC said March 19.

“They’re going to announce Monday [March 22] a joint venture with an American company to bid on the tanker program,” attorney John Kirkland said. Kirkland said the bid would be based on the Ilyushin Il-96, a four-engine airliner.

Asked about the UAC announcement, DoD spokewoman Cheryl Irwin said, “We welcome all qualified bidders.” Asked whether the Russian firm was qualified, she said, “I don’t know.”

Boeing is the only company that has announced it will bid for the $35 billion contract to supply the Air Force with 179 aerial refueling tankers.

There’s obviously zero chance that the Russian bid will win, but damn, I hope that it’s strong enough to further embarrass Boeing. I suggest, by the way, that everyone check out the comment thread on this WSJ story about the Russian bid; it reaffirms my faith in security of America’s strategic crazy reserves.

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