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Boeing's vindication

One of the editorials we’re working on for the day’s ahead regards the Government Accountability Office’s announcement Wednesday that the Air Force made “significant errors” in awarding a new tanker contract.

We’ve questioned from the beginning the wisdom of awarding a $35 billion contract for the critical upgrade of the nation’s aerial-refueling tanker fleet to a team led by a European aerospace company.

Sure, everyone in the Northwest, even as far from Seattle and Everett, as the Tri-Cities, has a parochial interest in Boeing’s success, but our objections to the Air Force decision have always run deeper.

This is a crucial contract to the future of America’s defensive capability and relying on foreign sources to fulfill the need ought to make everyone nervous.

We’ve also questioned whether the bidding was truly competitive, given questions regarding government subsidies to the European contractor awarded the contract.

As Les Blumenthal, the Herald’s Washington, D.C., correspondent, reports, the World Trade Organization is expected to rule soon on whether Airbus has received $15 billion in illegal subsidies from European governments.

At a minimum, there ought to be a level playing field.

Sen. Patty Murray has raised serious questions about whether airports in strategic locations around the globe can even accomodate the larger Airbus tankers.

And the GAO report indicates that the Air Force didn’t do an adequate job answer such questions before awarding the contract.

Blumenthal reports that, “Wednesday’s decision was such a slam dunk for Boeing that the GAO recommended the Air Force reimburse all of Boeing’s costs for filing and pursuing its protest, including attorney fees.”

We’ll be taking a closer look soon.