Perhaps Airbus will submit a bid after all. They just asked for another 90 day extension of the bid deadline to get their act together. I dare say a lot of USAF officers begged and pleaded with Airbus to submit a bid. With two bidders USAF gets a better price, AND all they have to do is pick the lowest bidder. Anyone can do that. And you don't have to justify your choice to angry losers, the Congressmen from angry losers district, SecDef, and MSM.
Money Quote from Airbus: the Pentagon's overture "does not address EADS' underlying concerns that the request for proposal clearly favors a smaller less capable aircraft, and that the additional combat capability offered by our system may not be fully valued".
Translation. Airbus has proposed as significantly bigger plane than Boeing. Bigger planes are more expensive than smaller planes. In a straight lowest bidder competition the smaller cheaper plane wins.
Note to Airbus. Take a hint, propose a plane the same size as Boeing's plane. You will have to redo a humongous stack of paperwork, but that's what computers are for.
Note to USAF. If you want a plane about the size of the existing KC-135, say so up front. Bigger planes carry more fuel, smaller planes can operate out of smaller shorter runways. Figure out what you want, and tell the bidders. Boeing apparently had an ear close to Pentagon walls and proposed a KC-135 sized airplane.
Note to protectionists. It doesn't really matter whether Boeing or Airbus builds the plane. Both planes have American built engines, and engines are like one third of the cost of the plane. Even if Airbus gets the job, American companies get a lot of business selling expensive parts to Airbus.