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Shelby, Tuberville call for Air Force tanker competition as Lockheed preps for Mobile-built aircraft

Alabama’s U.S. Senate delegation is urging the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to continue its plans to allow for competition on the Air Force’s KC-Y Tanker Program.

The competition has the potential to hold significant economic benefits for the Yellowhammer State, as Lockheed Martin has offered its LMXT Tanker to the branch for the program.

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.

The project would see the baseline Airbus A330 aircraft built in Mobile, with it being transported to Marietta to be converted into the 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.

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In a letter to DOD Secretary Lloyd Austin, U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa), Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) called for the department to move forward with the contract’s competition process.

“We write to express our support for the KC-Y Tanker Program and urge you to continue with plans to conduct a competition for the Air Force’s next tanker,” the senators’ letter begins.

“We agree with many senior Department of Defense officials, including Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, that competition is critical to ensuring the best quality and cost for defense acquisitions,” the senators add. “Competition is important to driving innovation and to ensuring both our nation’s servicemembers and taxpayers are best served by the defense procurement processes.”

According to the senators, “the KC-Y program is critical to modernizing our aging KC-135 tanker fleet and could provide options for addressing complex and growing threats facing our nation. We are encouraged to see funding for it in the Fiscal Year 2023 Future Years Defense Program Plan.”

The letter concludes, “As Air Mobility Command defines requirements and you continue your deliberations for this program, we encourage the Department of Defense to proceed with a competition for the KC-Y program to ensure the best platform can be identified to address the important need.”

Dylan Smith is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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