Update, 500 PM PDT: Innovation Analysis Group has a 24 minute podcast on this development featuring Flight Global defense writer Steve Trimble, TEAL Group aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia, IAG’s Addison Schonland and us.
EADS North America and Airbus have scheduled a press conference for 2pm EDT today. EADS NA CEO Sean O’Keefe, former EADS-NA CEO Ralph Crosby (who remains in charge of obtaining the KC-X contract) and Airbus Americas Chairman Allan McArtor are scheduled to appear.
Clearly this is the kick-off for the return of EADS to the competition.
Update, 0945AM PDT: Boeing already is on the offense, issuing a statement that the WTO ruling that Airbus, and the A330-200 on which the KC-45 is based, benefited from illegal subsidies should be considered. The Department of Defense has stated repeatedly that the WTO ruling will not be considered.
The WTO Interim Report on the EU case against Boeing is expected to be issued in June, ahead of the extended deadline of July 9 for proposals to be submitted. It is widely anticipated that Boeing will likewise be found to have benefited from illegal subsidies.
We have all along cautioned about focusing on the subsidies issues because we believed both parties will be found to have violated WTO trade rules. The Airbus report is out and the Boeing report is coming. Boeing and its supporters already have said any Boeing violations will “pale” in comparison with launch aid provided Airbus.
Whether it does or doesn’t remains to be seen, but since the underlying thesis of Boeing and its supporters is that any WTO violation should disqualify a company seeking this contract, then any violation by Boeing would disqualify Boeing. This, of course, won’t happen and therefore neither should it happen with respect to EADS (or Northrop before it withdrew).
Furthermore, DOD has reaffirmed over and over that it will not consider the WTO rulings, so all this is for Congress. This makes a sham of the DOD procurement process. The debate should be on the technical and operational merits of the offerings.
The press conference begins: