The Northrop Grumman KC-45A tanker team - which includes Airbus as a key subcontractor - hosted a series of events today with local citizens, dignitaries and Airbus employees in Mobile, Alabama to mark the KC-45A's selection by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) to replace its aerial refueling aircraft fleet.
Airbus President & CEO Tom Enders and Airbus Americas Chairman Allan McArtor represented Airbus at a celebration luncheon and subsequent news conference. 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 U.S. Air Force the most capable tanker in the world - and we will do it right here in Mobile," declared 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 - 5 KC-45As and one A330 Freighter.
The U.S. 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 no. 1 KC-45A airframe completed its first flight in September 2007 and is now ready for military conversion to tanker configuration.
Alabama Governor Bob Riley said: "The U.S. Air Force deserves the best tanker airplane ever built, and that's what they are going to get - delivered from Mobile. In every category, the KC-45A beat the competition."
As part today's activities in Mobile, Tom Enders and Allan McArtor paid a special visit to the Airbus Engineering Center at Mobile's Brookley Field to meet directly with employees there.
"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."