July 15 (Reuters) - Boeing Co (BA.N) plans to stick with its original entry of its 767 airliner in the rebidding for a $40 billion U.S. Air Force aerial-tanker contract, The Wall Street Journal said citing an interview with its chief executive.
However, the plane maker may seek to slow the process if the Pentagon changes its specifications to seek a bigger jet for the job, the paper said quoting Boeing CEO, Jim McNerney.
Boeing originally lost the competition to Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) and its European partner, EADS EAD.PA, in February but protested against the decision.
Last week, the Pentagon decided to reopen the competition for the contract after the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan congressional watchdog, found flaws in the contracting process.
The size of the plane the Air Force is seeking is important to the bid specifications, the paper said.
In its review, the Government Accountability Office and the Air Force gave extra credit to Northrop’s proposal, based on an Airbus A330 provided by EADS, because it was bigger and could haul more fuel, the newspaper said on its website.
The size issue has caused Boeing to wonder if it was at a disadvantage by bidding its smaller 767-based entry.
However, in the event the new Pentagon proposal makes size a key criterion, Boeing options could include a stretched version of the 767, or the larger 777, the paper said quoting McNerney, who added that bidding a larger plane would put pressure on an already aggressive schedule.
Boeing could not be immediately reached for comment. (Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan in Bangalore; Editing by Lincoln Feast)