- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Frank J. Gaffney Jr.’s Tuesday Commentary column, “Scandalous air tanker decision” may turn out to be rightly headlined, but for all the wrong reasons. The Air Force will soon decide which company will provide it with new aerial-refueling tankers, a decision that will impact U.S. power projection for the next 50 years. Two global companies are competing for the contract, and both plan to build the aircraft in the United States. Each also claims about the same number of U.S. jobs supported by the awarding of the contract.

However, only one competitor - EADS - has developed, flown and tested a tanker that will meet or exceed U.S. Air Force requirements, returning greater value to both the war-fighter and the taxpayer.

Instead of addressing the needs of the war-fighter and the capabilities of both offerings, Mr. Gaffney turns to unproven and untruthful accusations supported only by a similarly minded opinion writer published more than 10 years ago and by quoting the work of a paid Boeing consultant as if he were an unbiased analyst.

The real facts are these: The U.S. Air Force set out a decade ago to replace its aging tanker fleet. Its first attempt ended in scandal as two Boeing executives went to jail for defrauding the government. Boeing subsequently paid the largest fine in the history of the Department of Defense. Several years later, the Air Force again refused to accept the Boeing airplane and instead selected the KC-45 tanker.

Now the U.S. Air Force is trying again to modernize its tanker fleet. Mr. Gaffney would force the Air Force to buy an aircraft that the service, along with four allied air forces, has rejected previously. We owe it to our men and women in uniform to give them the best military equipment we can provide. Anything less would be the scandal referred to in the headline for Mr. Gaffney’s column. Providing the best is what the U.S. Air Force is trying to do, and we at EADS are proud to support its efforts.


Vice president, communications and public relations, EADS North America

Ashburn, Va.

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