Beating its U.S. rival Boeing, European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is one step closer to winning a €18.8 billion ($23.6 billion) contract to build tanker planes for the British military. U.K. government officials decided to enter into exclusive negotiations with the company for the contract, which would run over 27 years. The Airbus tanker plane FSTA is a modified version of the company’s A330-200 planes. It can carry 111 tons of fuel in its wings without the need for additional fuel tanks and re-fuel military jets in the air. Also, the planes can transport almost 300 soldiers or be filled with cargo instead. Airbus hopes the negotiations with the British government will convince other countries to order their planes from the them. “We’re convinced that Airbus planes meet the requirements many country's air forces,” a company spokesperson said. According to Airbus, many of the world’s 1,400 military transport and tanker planes will have to be replaced in the near future.