Will Assemble A330 Freighter In Mobile... But Only If KC-30
Selected By USAF
It's great news for Alabama... but comes with strings attached.
European aerospace consortium EADS announced Monday it will set up
production lines for the upcoming Airbus A330 Freighter and
Northrop Grumman KC-30 Tanker platform in Mobile, AL... but only if
the KC-30 is selected by the US Air Force as its new aerial
As both aircraft are based off the Airbus A330 airliner, EADS
says co-locating production of these aircraft would add to the
efficiency of the Mobile assembly facility, and ensure a smooth and
continuing production flow. It would also enable EADS to provide
its customers more flexibility in the assignment of final assembly
slots at Brookley Field for the military aerial refueling platform
or the civilian freighter, depending on demand.
The site would be expanded to support the production of up to
four aircraft per month -- ensuring ready capacity to meet the Air
Force's KC-X delivery requirements at no risk, EADS says, while
also fulfilling the A330 Freighter's order book which is already at
"Today’s announcement is a historic opportunity for
Airbus, EADS and for the US aerospace industry," said Airbus
President and CEO Thomas Enders. "Selection of the KC-30 by the US
Air Force will not only provide the world’s most capable
military tanker, it also will result in the establishment of the
first large commercial aircraft assembly facility in the US in over
40 years -- and the first such Airbus assembly facility in the
"EADS, with Airbus and its other
divisions, is already the largest single international customer for
US aerospace products," Enders added. This significant investment
would effectively transform EADS and Airbus into a second US-based
producer and exporter of large commercial aircraft."
As ANN reported, the KC-30 is
competing against Boeing's KC-767 for the KC-X bid, which aims to
replace the Air Force's aged fleet of KC-135 tankers. The KC-30 is
larger than Boeing's 767-sourced bird, and offers additional
capabilities above what KC-X calls for. It is also more
Both entities submitted their final bids for the contract
earlier this year. The Air Force could make its decision as early
as the end of this month.
EADS is partner and principal subcontractor to Northrop Grumman
on the USAF Tanker replacement program. If the KC-30 is selected,
EADS will be responsible for assembling KC-30 Tanker airframes and
providing completed aircraft to Northrop Grumman, which will then
militarize the aircraft, outfit the mission equipment and deliver
the aircraft to the US Air Force.
"This investment decision -- along with our earlier selection of
Mobile, Alabama as the site of the KC-30 Tanker final assembly
facility, the Airbus Engineering Center and the EADS CASA facility
at Mobile Regional Airport -- reflects EADS’ firm commitment
to the future of the American aerospace industry, the security of
the United States, and our longstanding intention to create jobs
and in-source industrial capability, advanced products and critical
technologies into the United States," said EADS North America
Chairman and CEO Ralph D. Crosby, Jr.
EADS proposes expanding the Mobile facility by 20 percent, to
accommodate A330 Freighter industrial activity. It would also
require at least 300 direct additional employees above the 1,000
currently slated for the tanker assembly.