Keeping It Outside

Pentagon weapons czar Ashton Carter on Monday reiterated that the Defense Department will not factor a World Trade Organization interim ruling against European aircraft maker Airbus in the Air Force’s KC-X tanker competition. “The only action we can take at this point,” Carter told reporters at the Pentagon, is to ensure “that the taxpayer is held harmless in respect of any damages that end up being awarded in any of the cases before the WTO,” reported Reuters news wire service. Boeing supporters contend that the illegal subsidies Airbus allegedly received for its A330 airliner place Boeing at an unfair price disadvantage against Northrop Grumman, since the latter’s KC-X tanker offering is based on the A330. But their calls for intervention have heretofore gone unheeded. Conversely, Northrop supporters say the subsidies issue has no place in the contest. Plus, the WTO is still reviewing a countercharge against Boeing.