Northrop Grumman’s decision not to bid for the U.S. Air Force’s KC-X aerial refueling tanker contract is being met with a private sigh of relief from Pentagon officials. Another round of contentious competition has been averted. But the officials’ sigh is likely being followed by an uneasy gasp at the tough challenge of negotiating a sole-source deal with Boeing that could endure to 2027. The Pentagon’s request for proposals (RFP) for the contract to build 179 tankers calls for bids ...

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