U.S. Air Force

Courtesy of Evergreen Public Schools.

Two airmen from the Northwest were killed in a helicopter crash in England this week. The Pave Hawk helicopter went down in a marshy nature preserve in eastern England, killing the entire four-member crew.

The Pentagon says the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration could leave the U.S. with a military that is simply unprepared for the most challenging combat missions. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told Congress in April that the military is eating its seed corn.

Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane is planning a public memorial service for three of its airmen killed in a mid-air explosion over central Asia.

The cause of the air refueling tanker accident last Friday remains under investigation, but the crash renews attention on a Boeing Company contract to replace the Air Force's aging tanker fleet.

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Some Air Force and Army bases in the Northwest are helping with the Libyan fight. Seven tankers and about 100 airmen from Fairchild Air Force Base are already working in undisclosed locations in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn.

AP

Boeing's chief rival for the lucrative Air Force tanker refueling contract ended a decade-long fight for over the work today, announcing it will not challenge the Defense Department's award for the project. 

The Herald of Everett's Michelle Dunlop reports EADS, the European parent company of Airbus, decided a challenge could not be mounted:

It's a day of celebration and pride at the Boeing plant in Everett, after the company won the $35 billion-dollar Air Force contract for a new aerial tanker fleet. 

The Pentagon wants Boeing to build the next generation of Air Force refueling tankers. The contract is worth $35 billion. Boeing's bid beat out rival EADS, parent of Airbus. 

The Air Force has tried for nearly a decade to replace its aging fleet of Eisenhower-era tankers, the equivalent of a flying gas station.

The planes will be based on Boeing's 767 jetliner.  The work is expected to impact 50,000 jobs, according to the Associated Press.

Washington's congressional leaders are celebrating the announcement. In a statement issued shortly after the Pentagon's choice was made public, Senator Patty Murray cheered the decision:

“This decision is a major victory for the American workers, the American aerospace industry and America’s military. And it is consistent with the President’s own call to ‘out-innovate’ and ‘out-build’ the rest of the world," Murray stated.

 

AP

Final bids were submitted Thursday by Boeing and Airbus' parent company, EADS for the contract to build the Air Force's in-flight refueling tanker. The Air Force could announce the winner as early as next month, but the award is likely to be sidetracked by politics and protests.