European governments urge US not to exclude expensive air force bids

German and French officials have written to the White House over the terms of its air force refuelling contract.

There are fears that the American Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, will open the contest for the oft-postponed contract next month with terms favourable to the cheapest, not the most technologically advanced, bidder. EADS, the European bidder, is dearer than probable US rival Boeing. EU governments want to ensure their candidate can win.