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Lockheed Martin, Airbus partnership proposes Mobile-built Air Force tanker aircraft

Defense and aerospace industry powerhouses Lockheed Martin and Airbus are joining forces in a proposal to build the U.S. Air Force’s future midair fueling tanker in Mobile.

Should the military’s air service branch select Lockheed Martin as the prime contractor, the project could reportedly create up to 1,300 jobs between the proposed sites of Mobile and Marietta, Ga. A final determination is projected to be made on the contract award in 2024.

U.S. Sen Richard Shelby (R-Ala), vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and lead Republican of its subcommittee on defense, applauded the companies’ proposal to build the partnership’s product in Mobile.

“I commend Airbus and Lockheed Martin for continuing to recognize Alabama’s commitment to excellence in manufacturing and engineering. Across the state, our workforce produces world-class products that serve to strengthen national security and maintain military readiness,” advised Shelby. “The LMXT is yet another opportunity to demonstrate our staunch devotion to the warfighter. Alabama knows aerospace, and I trust Airbus and Lockheed to harness the talent Mobile has to offer to deliver the product our Air Force deserves.”

The project would see the baseline Airbus A330 aircraft built in Mobile, with it being transported to Marietta to be converted into the Lockheed Martin Next Tanker (LMXT). A new $400 million facility to support production would be constructed at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley, which would employ more than 300 direct workers. The product is currently in use with 13 U.S. allies across the globe.

The Air Force’s unique LMXT platform, building on the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), has served to refuel combat aircrafts of multiple military branches since 2015. According to a release, the LMXT has the greatest flight range and carries the most fuel of any tanker in the world.

U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, commended the industry behemoths’ partnership to further expand the role South Alabama plays in contributing to national defense.

“I applaud Airbus and Lockheed Martin for choosing Mobile to produce an aircraft that is already known to be a proven solution for the Air Force,” stated Carl. “I’m proud my colleagues in the Alabama delegation and I were able to work together and get this project moving so Alabama can continue supporting the defense needs of the United States.”

He added, “Alabama has always been at the forefront when it comes to the aerospace industry and providing for our national defense, and thanks to the partnership between Airbus and Lockheed Martin, Alabamians will have the opportunity to provide an Alabama-built aircraft for all Americans.”

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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