Soviet Design Offered As New Tanker

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A California company says it has teamed up with Ukrainian aircraft builder Antonov to launch a bid for the multibillion-dollar contract to supply 179 tanker aircraft to the U.S. Air Force. In a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, U.S. Aerospace says it can provide a better tanker for a lower price than either Airbus or Boeing, who've been waging a politically charged battle for the deal for years. "We believe that we will be able to offer a superior aircraft at a significantly lower price than other potential bidders," the company said in its filing.

U.S. Aerospace says it will offer AN-124-KC, AN-122-KC and AN-112-KC models for the contract. The latter two models don't appear on any lists of Antonov models (including Antonov's Web site) that we can find but may be variants of the AN-124, which first flew in 1982 and is still in service with cargo airlines. The U.S. Air Force has rented AN-124s to ship helicopters overseas. The tankers will be built in Ukraine but assembled in the U.S. company says. Although the company's bid has been described as a long shot in most media reports, U.S. Aerospace apparently sees it more as a springboard to even more business with the military.