Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) and Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) and 123 other lawmakers signed a letter to President Obama last week, urging him to stand behind the US government’s long-stated argument that “European governments illegally subsidized the development of Airbus aircraft,” states the letter. In a joint statement with Dicks, Tiahrt said the current Pentagon position—essentially ignoring the World Trade Organization’s interim ruling—is “unacceptable” and Dicks agreed, adding that “it is difficult to explain how the Pentagon can ignore the obvious implications for the tanker contract.” Dicks and Tiahrt are ardent Boeing supporters in the KC-X tanker competition against the Northrop Grumman-EADS team. (EADS is parent to Airbus.) Dicks, Tiahrt, et al conclude, “When the WTO’s final ruling in this matter confirms US claims that Airbus products were illegally subsidized, we will be committed to ensuring this principle is upheld.”
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.