NATIONAL FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2006 LAREDO MORNING TIMES | 11A Air Force awards helicopter contract to Boeing By MATTHEW DALY ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON — The Air Force awarded a $13 billion contract Thursday for search and rescue combat helicopters to a team led by aerospace giant Boeing. Chicago-based Boeing beat out rival Lockheed Martin and helicopter maker Sikorsky Aircraft for the contract to build 141 helicopters by 2019 for the Air Force’s fleet of rescue aircraft. Estimates of the contract’s eventual value run as high as $25 billion. Some Wall Street and industry analysts had thought Maryland-based Lockheed would win. The Lockheed version had a roomier cabin and three powerful engines and was cheaper than Boeing’s, a modified version of its CH-47 Chinook helicopter. The decision is the latest blow to Sikorsky, a division of United Technologies, which sought to replace its own Pave Hawk helicopters that the Air Force has flown since 1982 on rescue missions. Sikorsky, based in Stratford, Conn., spent about $1 billion developing the new S-92 model, according to analyst estimates, but it has yet to find a U.S. government buyer. Sikorsky has a deal to provide 28 to the Canadian government. Boeing called the Air Force decision a vote of confidence in the company. “Backed by our decades of experience in rotorcraft design, production and systems integration, the HH-47 will rapidly deploy versatile rescue capability to even the most challenging combat rescue situation’s ability to provide them the rotorcraft they need for this very important mission,” said Jim Albaugh, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. A team led by Lockheed had offered the US-101, the same helicopter selected last year for the Navy’s presidential helicopter, Marine One. Boeing also teamed with Sikorsky to offer the S-92, a newer helicopter mostly used by offshore oil companies. The Navy’s decision to award the presidential helicopter fleet to Lockheed and its international partners, including the British-Italian company, AgustaWestland, sparked animated debate over buy-America issues. Courtesy photo | Boeing In this handout photo provided by Boeing, an artist’s rendering of Boeing’s HH-47 helicopter is shown. Reno fire suspect faces 12 murder counts ASSOCIATED PRESS RENO, Nev. — Prosecutors filed 12 counts of first-degree murder Thursday against a woman they say started a deadly hotel blaze by setting a mattress on fire after a dispute with a fellow tenant. Valerie Moore, 47, a convicted murderer who was paroled a year ago, was arrested the morning after the Oct. 31 fire but had been held on a parole violation while authorities searched for bodies — a process that took until Wednesday because the gutted building was so hazardous. The fire at the 84-year-old, $150-a-week Mizpah Hotel was Reno’s deadliest ever, killing 12 people and injuring 31. The criminal complaint also includes one count of first-degree arson, said Dave Clifton, Washoe County’s chief deputy district attorney. “This was a horrendous fire and devastating to life. We’re going forward with full vigor to get justice in this case,” Clifton said. He declined to discuss any of the evidence recovered from the historic, three-story brick building “because it’s too big of case as far as all the potentials, the death penalty and so on.” Moore, who worked at a nearby casino, will make her initial appearance Monday, Clifton said. The county public defender’s office has been assigned to represent Moore, he said, but an attorney has not been designated. As many as 83 tenants were in the Mizpah Hotel when the fire broke out, police said. Many were rescued by firefighters on ladders, and several jumped to the street below. A national response team from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives worked with local crews using search dogs and state-of-the-art equipment to recover the victims. The building was so badly damaged that parts had to be shored up before they could be searched.