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CHICAGO (

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Boeing

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shares jumped in late trades on Thursday after the company unexpectedly won the $35 billion contract to build aerial refueling tankers for the Air Force.

The Pentagon announced the award after the market closed on Thursday.

Boeing shares closed Thursday at $70.76, up 53 cents. The stock was last quoted at $73.10, up 3.3%, in the after-hours session on volume of nearly 300,000, according to

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Boeing's 767-based tanker was competing against a tanker based on the Airbus A330. The bidding war that ended Thursday marked the third try in a controversial process.

The first effort failed because of a scandal involving Boeing. The second time, the choice was a tanker built by

Northrop Grumman

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and Airbus, but congressional auditors found flaws in the bidding process. Northrop Grumman subsequently withdrew from the bidding.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte

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Ted Reed