This undated photo provided by European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) shows an aerial refueling tanker aircraft, that EADS North America has offered to the U.S. Air Force as the KC-45, as it refuels an F-16 fighter aircraft via a refueling boom system. EADS is competing with Boeing Co. to win a $35 billion contract to build nearly 200 giant airborne refueling tankers, to replace the Air Force's Eisenhower-era KC-135 planes. If EADS wins, the tanker would be assembled in Mobile, Ala., at the former Brookley military base, shuttered in the 1960s. Either way, about 50,000 jobs would be created in the U.S. (AP Photo/EADS North America) NO SALES.
It's one of the biggest defense contracts ever that will add tens of thousands of jobs to the struggling economy and bolster regional air industries for a generation.
But the announcement Thursday that the Air Force was choosing Boeing over a bid by European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. drew deep disappointment from Germany and the European manufacturer, which promised to discuss the decision further with the U.S. military.
It also came as a severe setback to the Gulf Coast and to Alabama, where EADS had planned to assemble its aircraft at a former military base in Mobile.
The announcement came as a surprise to many after defense analysts, politicians, factory workers and even company executives had expected EADS to win the decade-long battle with Boeing.