Defense Secretary Robert Gates told lawmakers on Tuesday that the competition for new aerial refueling tankers will probably heat up again by spring. Last year, Gates personally delayed the project after Boeing Co. appealed the $35 billion contract awarded to Northrop Grumman Corp. and EADS. "I would hope that we get this process going by spring," Gates said, saying it would depend on confirmations of a new deputy defense secretary and a new acquisitions chief.

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