EADS will submit its bid for the hotly contested competition to build a new generation of aerial tankers for the U.S. military either on Thursday or Friday, Chief Executive Louis Gallois said on Saturday.

It is also likely that the European Union will appeal a recent World Trade Organization panel ruling critical of EU export subsidies to EADS-owned Airbus, Gallois told reporters.

It seems likely to me that (the EU) will appeal, Gallois said on the sidelines of a conference in Aix-en-Provence.

EADS and American arch-rival Boeing are locked in a fierce battle for a contract for 179 refueling planes to replace the aging U.S. fleet of Boeing-built KC-135 tankers, which are nearly 50 years old on average. [ID:nN02192170]

U.S. lawmakers backing Boeing have called for the tanker competition to factor in the WTO ruling, which said EU export subsidies to Airbus had hurt Boeing and must be scrapped. [ID:nL8377482]

But EADS' Gallois said that 70 percent of Boeing's complaints had been rejected by the WTO and that Boeing had not proved that export subsidies to Airbus had directly affected its competitiveness or employees.

Gallois also reaffirmed that government loans for the A350 XWB program were not contrary to WTO rules and that the financing of Airbus' A350 program was legal in the WTO's view.

When asked whether EADS could take action against Boeing's statements on the WTO ruling, Gallois declined comment.

(Reporting by Matthias Blamont and Lionel Laurent; Editing by Susan Fenton)