Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Getting Tanked on French Air

Boeing's steamed this week (and for that matter, since early March) over recent developments in the Air Force's contracts for new midair refueling tankers. Basically, their beef is that that the Air Force awarded a 35 billion dollar procurement contract for new tankers to replace the KC-135 (which, as it turns out my father piloted). The subtleties of their complaint accuse Airbus/Northrop (parented by EADS) of insider trading and that there were illegal actions in the procurement of the contract. There couldn't be a thicker slice of baloney in the books.

Procurement contracts for government spending are one of the most common non-tariff barriers employed by the United States and countries in Europe (ever see a state trooper driving a Honda instead of a Crown Vic?). So if they can pitch a fit and claim wrongdoing in some way, they will. I'm a little surprised, however, that they tried to be creative by alleging illegal trading practice instead of invoking the usual "American Jobs" argument (perhaps because Airbus is going to be doing most of the assembly that normally occurs in France at plants in Alabama, USA). This shows some real ingenuity in the lobbying process! What's funny is that if anyone has insider status for such contracts, it's the Boeings and Lockheeds, not the Airbuses and Embratels of the industry.

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