Governors urge tanker deal for Boeing

Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson has joined a coalition of governors calling for the Pentagon to award an aerial refueling tanker contract to Boeing.

The group is called U.S. Tanker 2010 Coalition.

"It's time to get Americans back to work, and this is a great way to do it," Parkinson said at a news conference in Washington, D.C.

The bipartisan effort is headed by Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire. She and Parkinson announced the coalition on Monday.

They're joined by governors from Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, Oregon and Utah and business and labor organizations.

Boeing is the best choice for the tanker, Parkinson said.

A Boeing contract would mean 40,000 to 50,000 U.S. jobs at a time jobs are needed most, Parkinson said.

It also would serve the national interest and build U.S. industrial capacity.

"This is an absolute no-brainer," Parkinson said.

The U.S. Air Force will request formal bids as early as today for a $35 billion contract for refuelers. The first two times the Air Force tried to replace the tankers ended in controversy.

The contract could be one of the Pentagon's largest, ultimately worth an estimated $100 billion.

The public, Congress and the Obama administration will hear from the coalition, Gregoire said.

Northrop Grumman officials have said they won't submit a bid unless significant changes are made in the request for proposal.

If it bids, Northrop Grumman would offer an Airbus aircraft.

Boeing will offer a modified 767.

If successful, the company has said finishing work on the tanker would be done in Wichita, but it has not said what the scope of the work would be should Boeing win.