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Boeing to offer tanker based on 767

Boeing will offer the U.S. Air Force a tanker based on its 767 commercial airliner in its bid for a $35 billion refueling tanker contract, the company announced.

Boeing's offering will satisfy all of the Air Force's 372 mandatory requirements, it said, including a production rate at whatever level the Air Force determines.

The tanker will rely on existing Boeing facilities in Washington and Kansas and on U.S. suppliers throughout the country, the company said.

It is "an American-made tanker that will be capable, survivable and combat-ready at the lowest cost to the taxpayer," Boeing said in a statement.

The aircraft, which Boeing has named "NewGen", will include:

* A digital flight deck with electronic displays used in its 787 Dreamliner. The displays show flight altitude, navigation, engine indication and crew-alerting information on screens that are 75 percent larger than those on a commercial Airbus A330.

* A new generation "fly-by-wire" boom with expanded refueling capabilities and increased fuel offload rate.

* The ability to be controlled by the aircrew, which will have unrestricted access to the full flight envelope for threat avoidance at any time, rather than allowing computer software to limit combat maneuverability.

Northrop Grumman is reportedly getting closer to deciding whether it will submit a bid. It has said that the Air Force's request for proposal favors Boeing and its smaller tanker.

If it does bid, Northrop Grumman offer a tanker based on an Airbus A330 aircraft.

The Air Force released its final request for proposal on Feb. 24. Bidders have 75 days to respond. It's expected to announce the winner later this year.

Boeing has said it will deliver its bid by May 10.

It's the Air Force's third attempt to replace its fleet of Eisenhower-era refuelers. Boeing has offered a 767-based tanker in previous tries.

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