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GAO Upends Air Force Tanker Award

The Government Accountability Office today upheld Boeing’s protest of the Air Force’s decision to award a $40 billion contract for new aerial refueling tankers to Northrop Grumman and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co, saying its review found the service made “significant errors” that could have affected the competition’s outcome.

The GAO is recommending that the Air Force reopen the competition, in light of its findings. The service has 60 days to respond to the protest, the GAO said in a lengthy statement. It has not released the complete ruling because it contains proprietary information.

Almost instantly, Boeing backer Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) was ready to declare victory.

“COMPLETE VINDICATION,” his spokesman, George Behan, said in an e-mail.

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