Everett Boeing Workers Rally For Tanker Contract

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Boeing turned out hundreds of employees for a rally Monday at the widebody factory in Everett to support  the company's bid to build a new Air Force refueling tanker.

Boeing is offering a military version of its 767 in competition with European defense contractor EADS, which will use an Airbus A330.

The Pentagon is expected to award a $35 billion contract for 179 planes by the end of the year. Replacing the fleet of aging tankers could be worth up to $100 billion.

Boeing says winning the contract would generate 11,000 jobs and $693 million in annual economic impact for the state of Washington.

Currently Boeing has 72,000 employees in the state and an annual economic impact of $3.3 billion.

Boeing tanker work also would be performed at Wichita, Kan., and involve suppliers nationwide.

Democrat Sen. Patty Murray and Reps. Norm Dicks, Rick Larsen,

Jim McDermott and Jay Inslee and Republican Dave Reichert told the Boeing workers the Air Force tanker should be built in the U.S.

Reichert stressed it's a bipartisan team effort.

Murray has made the contract an issue in her re-election campaign. She introduced legislation calling for the Pentagon to

consider that Airbus has received subsidies which the World Trade Organization calls improper.

Murray also has accused GOP challenger Dino Rossi of wavering on the illegal subsidies question. Rossi rejects that characterization and says he agrees that Airbus subsidies should be taken into account in the tanker contract.

Boeing started assembly this month of its 1,000th 767 jetliner; the first flew in 1981. Orders for 767s have declined in recent years, but Boeing still has a backlog of 44 planes.

Boeing is building a new assembly bay for 767s at Everett, in part to free additional space to assemble its new 787 jetliner.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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