The Air Force today lifted a 20-month ban prohibiting Boeing from bidding on satellite launch contracts, saying the company had corrected problems that led to accusations that it stole information from a competitor in 1998.

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WASHINGTON — The Air Force today lifted a 20-month ban prohibiting Boeing from bidding on satellite launch contracts, saying the company had corrected problems that led to accusations that it stole information from a competitor in 1998.

Acting Air Force Secretary Peter Teets said Boeing will reimburse the military $1.9 million for the cost of investigating the allegations, and the Air Force will have an official, paid for by Boeing, monitoring the company’s business ethics for the next three years.

“This has been the longest suspension of a major defense contractor,” Teets told a Pentagon press conference. “Boeing has taken serious corrective action over the last 20 months.”

In July 2003, the Air Force banned Boeing from satellite launches, accusing it of stealing extensive information from Lockheed Martin during competition in 1998 for a $1.88 billion satellite launching contract.

As a further penalty, the Air Force also took away a series of launches, worth about $1 billion in revenue, that were to use Boeing rockets, and gave them to Lockheed.

The “Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle” program was initiated in the 1990s to replace a satellite launch program that still used 1960s technology.

The Air Force initially awarded Boeing and Lockheed Martin contracts worth nearly $2 billion over the course of 28 missions from 2002 through 2008. Boeing received the majority of the contracts, many of which were transferred to Lockheed Martin.

Three Boeing employees were charged in connection with the alleged thefts.