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Pentagon briefing lawmakers on requests for tanker bids

Pentagon officials are briefing senior lawmakers this morning about the final terms of a $35 million aerial refueling tanker competition, according to Reuters.

The officials declined to comment after a meeting, saying they will speak publicly at a 3 p.m. news conference at the Pentagon.

The guidelines don’t differ a lot from a draft version released earlier by the Air Force, Rep. Norm Dicks said after the briefing, according to the Seattle Times.

“I think the changes have been rather minimal,” Dicks said. But Boeing will have to “compete aggressively” to win the bid over Northrop Grumman and EADS, the parent company of Airbus.

Sen. John McCain told Reuters  he was reviewing the Pentagon’s information.

“Put me down as cautious,” McCain said when asked if he was confident the terms would guarantee a level playing field for both parties.

Northrop Grumman has said it won’t bid unless significant changes were made to the final request for proposal. But Pentagon officials have said they expect to receive two bids, the Seattle Times said.

Boeing is expected to offer its 767 airliner as a platform for an aerial refueler.

It’s the third attempt to replace the U.S. Air Force’s aging tanker fleet, which were built by Boeing.