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Tanker Proposal May Be Delayed Until September, Morrell Says

The Pentagon’s strategy for purchasing a new fleet of aerial refueling tankers may not be announced until September, spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

The decision is lagging because “we want to make darn sure we get it right,” Morrell told reporters at a briefing today. Morrell declined to specify when the strategy will be announced, saying it could be August or September.

Chicago-based Boeing Co. (BA) in February 2008 lost the original $35 billion tanker program to Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC) and teammate Airbus SAS parent European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. (EAD)

Boeing successfully protested, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates postponed a re-bid until a new administration took office.

Pentagon officials, including Gates, first said a draft request for proposals would be released in the March-to-mid-June time frame, then pushed that estimate back to July.

“The point is everybody wants to be extraordinarily cautious about how we proceed,” Morrell said today.

To contact the reporters on this story: Tony Capaccio in Washington at acapaccio@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Kirk at jkirk12@bloomberg.net.

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