Gates still against splitting tanker deal

A key lawmaker’s proposal last week to divide the $35 billion-dollar program to replace the U.S. military’s aging fleet of in-air refueling tankers was met by opposition at the Pentagon, reports Agence France-Press.

Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces, called March 11 for dividing the politically charged contract between U.S. and European aerospace rivals.

“A two-tanker solution is better than a no-tanker solution,” said Abercrombie, who suggested that Northrop Grumman Corp. and its European partner EADS should share the package with Boeing Co.

The Pentagon reacted swiftly. “Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ position on a split-buy is clear to all involved. He thinks it is impractical and inefficient, and he is adamantly opposed to it,” DOD spokesman Geoff Morrell said March 13.

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