UPDATE 2-EADS open to adjusting U.S. tanker bid
* Air Force expected to ask for final proposal revisions
* EADS still aiming for significant profit
* EADS refuels another A330 tanker (Rewrites with new quotes, adds byline, Boeing comment)
WASHINGTON, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Europe's EADS (EAD.PA) on Tuesday said its A330-based aerial refueling plane hit another key milestone after refueling another A330 tanker, and could adjust its bid for a U.S. military contract if the Air Force asked for proposal revisions.
Ralph Crosby, chairman of the North American unit of EADS, said the company was willing to revamp its proposal if the Air Force asked for final proposal revisions, as expected, but insisted that EADS still expected to make significant profit on the contract if it won.
Boeing supporters in Congress have accused the Airbus parent company of preparing to engage in dumping with the help of European subsidies by offering less expensive planes to win the politically sensitive contest for 179 refueling planes.
The Air Force has been evaluating rival bids from EADS and Boeing Co (BA.N) in a competition valued at up to $50 billion, since July, with an eye to awarding a contract this fall.
Asked if EADS was willing to play ball and lower its price given the Pentagon's expanded push for affordability, Crosby said, "We're in the game, aren't we?"
Crosby told reporters at the annual Air Force Association conference that he remained convinced that EADS' A330-based tanker offered the Air Force a better value for its money, and posed less risk than Boeing's 767-based tanker.
He cited EADS's work on tankers for Australia, Britain and two other countries, a design that is 95 percent common with that proposed for the Air Force competition.
Boeing's proposal, Crosby said, centered on a new 767-based tanker that was substantially different from the refueling planes it has built for Italy and Japan.
Crosby said EADS had a "real" airplane that was flying now, which substantially lowered the risk of further delays in fielding a new refueling plane, but the changes Boeing needed to make could pose a substantial risk of delays, he said.
Boeing officials have given few details about the configuration of the company's 767-based tanker offering after taking sharp criticism of a design dubbed "Frankentanker" by its opponents in the last competition.
NO DETAILS ON 767 TANKER FROM BOEING
Boeing brought a 767 tanker simulator to the Air Force event, the latest stop on a tour that has logged 20,000 miles and hit 25 cities. But spokesman Bill Barksdale said Boeing felt the details about its offering should be shared with the Air Force alone. "We're not trying to sell the plane publicly," he said. "The details belong in the Air Force competition."
Crosby said the EADS plane offered cost savings of 14.5 percent to 44 percent for each gallon of fuel delivered to troops, when compared to the smaller 767-based plane, an argument he said that explained why Airbus has sold far more A330 planes to commercial customers than the Boeing's 767.
"Airlines don't make money but they're not stupid," Crosby said, noting that the cost per gallon of fuel delivered should be a more important consideration in the Air Force bidding.
Factors such as the A330's greater fuel offload rate and larger carrying capacity were "undervalued" in the Air Force competition, but EADS still felt it could win on the price.
"We're in this competition because we believe our total evaluated price will be lower," Crosby said.
Boeing argues that its smaller 767-based tanker will use significantly less fuel than the A330 tanker, making it more economical for the Air Force to operate longer-term. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa)