Northrop stirs pot with fresh swipe at Boeing

A top Pentagon official has rebuked Northrop Grumman Corp. over an advertisement it ran in a major newspaper this week in which it resumed its attack on rival Boeing Co., reports The Wall Street Journal.

Northrop Grumman ran a full-page ad in the Nov. 19 Washington Post in which stated that Northrop's first batch of 68 Airbus A330-based planes cost $3 billion less to make than the same number of modified Boeing 767s.

The ad marked a resumption of the sparring that occurred in national and Washington-area newspapers in the United States over the past summer as the two competed for a $40 billion opportunity to build a new aerial tanker. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates postponed the competition until the next new administration takes office. The postponement was intended to serve as a cooling-off period.

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics John Young subsequently confronted Northrop over the matter. "I called the company and said, 'I don't appreciate this and I don't think it's necessary.'"

Northrop said it was trying to refocus attention on the tanker situation while lawmakers and President-elect Obama's transition team weigh weapons-buying decisions.

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