Mandelson hits out over a lost US defence deal

LORD Mandelson hit out at the US Pentagon yesterday, after British defence group EADS said it was prevented from fairly bidding for a massive American contract.

EADS and US partner Northrop Grumman said they would not submit a new bid for a $35bn (£23.3bn) contract to make 179 mid-air refuelling aircraft. The pair said the Pentagon was “clearly favouring” an all-US bid from Boeing.

Britain will lose out on £4.6bn of export orders because the aircraft will not be built at EADS’ Broughton factory.

“Given the open market to US producers we have in Europe, it is very disappointing that a US-led European consortium feels the revised tanker procurement process is now so biased against them that it is not even worth making a bid,” Lord Mandelson said.

He added: “It is doubly disappointing when you consider that two years ago EADS, with their American partner, were awarded the contract fair and square.”

The pair won the contract back in 2008, but the Pentagon decided to review its decision after public outcry and complaints from Boeing.