Sweet Home, Alabama For New USAF Tanker
As Boeing considered filing a formal protest over the US Air
Force's KC-X tanker selection, last week the Northrop Grumman
KC-45A tanker team -- which includes Airbus as a key subcontractor
-- hosted a series of events in Mobile, AL to mark the KC-45A's
selection by the USAF to replace its aerial refueling aircraft
Airbus President & CEO Tom Enders and Airbus Americas
Chairman Allan McArtor represented Airbus at a celebration luncheon
and subsequent news conference Friday. As ANN has reported, Mobile
will be home to a new final assembly facility that is to build
KC-45s, along with the Airbus A330-200 civilian freighter.
"With our project leader, Northrop Grumman, we will build and
deliver to the US Air Force the most capable tanker in the world --
and we will do it right here in Mobile," said Enders. "The
excellent engineers already in place at our Mobile Engineering
Center for more than a year formed our 'base camp' for expansion in
Mobile, and now we will build on this. We will make the investments
necessary to meet our commitments to our partners at Northrop
Grumman and -- more importantly -- to meet our commitments to the
men and women of the United States Air Force."
Enders said planning for the Mobile final assembly line in is
underway, and construction is expected to begin by the end of 2008.
Assembly of the first aircraft is targeted to commence in late
2010, with six aircraft being delivered from Mobile in
2011 -- five KC-45As and one A330 Freighter.
The US Air Force contract is a key win for the Northrop
Grumman-led KC-45 industrial team, more firmly establishing the
strong reputation of Airbus and EADS in the United States. The
initial contract provides four System Design and Development
aircraft and is valued at $1.5 billion. The first KC-45A airframe
completed its first flight in September 2007 and is now ready for
military conversion to tanker configuration.
"The USAir Force deserves the best tanker airplane ever built,
and that's what they are going to get -- delivered from Mobile,"
said Alabama Governor Bob Riley. In every category, the KC-45A beat
Enders and McArtor also paid a special visit to the Airbus
Engineering Center at Mobile's Brookley Field to meet directly with
"It is the people that make a company, its products, its quality
and its reputation," said McArtor. "Our people -- the
Airbus-EADS-Northrop Grumman team -- are why we won this contract
and why we are here today."