The U.S. Air Force has delayed the award of a long-awaited contract to replace 50-year-old Boeing KC-135 tankers until next year.
The contract for a 179 tankers was to have been awarded by Dec. 20. An Air Force spokesman had told The Eagle last week that the contract would still be awarded this year.
Boeing and EADS, the parent company of Airbus, have bid on the contract.
The Air Force also said that it has transferred sensitive data to EADS and Boeing about each other's bid.
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"The inability of the Air Force to meet yet another deadline speaks volumes about the lack of leadership in the tanker competition," Rep. Todd Tiahrt said in a news release. "On the fourth attempt, the Pentagon has set itself up to botch the competition."
The additional delays "combined with careless handling of sensitive data cannot be tolerated," Tiahrt said.
Boeing Wichita would be a finishing center for the tanker if that company wins the contract.
The effort to replace the tankers has been a years-long effort.
In 2008, the Air Force awarded the deal to Northrop Grumman, which had teamed with Airbus, but the award was overturned on appeal from Boeing.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office found the Air Force had made a number of mistakes in awarding the contract.
An earlier effort to lease and then buy 100 Boeing 767 airplanes modified into tankers fell apart amid a scandal that sent the Air Force's procurement officer and Boeing's ex-chief financial offer to prison for corruption.