Pentagon okays next step in competition for Air Force spy planes

Fri Dec 11, 2015 11:10am EST
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WASHINGTON Dec 11 (Reuters) - The Pentagon's chief arms buyer has approved the next steps in a long-awaited multibillion-dollar competition to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of E-8 JSTARS spy and battle management planes, according to two sources familiar with the decision.

Frank Kendall, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, this week signed a memorandum approving the start of the so-called Milestone A phase of the program, paving the way for funding of demonstrations of the new aircraft, said the sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Three teams are competing for the work: Northrop Grumman Corp, which built the existing planes and is teamed up with General Dynamics Corp ; Lockheed Martin Corp, which is working with Canada's Bombardier ; and Boeing Co. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal)