The Pentagon began notifying lawmakers on Wednesday that it was calling off bidding for a $40 billion fleet of aerial tankers because a winner could not be selected before the start of a new presidential administration. Defense Secretary Robert Gates reportedly viewed the cancellation as providing a much-needed "cooling off" period. With the current fleet approaching an average age of 50 years, the Air Force has made the acquisition of 179 new tankers a top priority. Officials contend, however, that the current fleet of Boeing-made KC-135 tankers can continue flying for the near future.

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