Lockheed Martin, Airbus Announce Plans to Bid on ‘Bridge Tanker’ Program Competition
Business View – April 2022 / Business News
Lockheed Martin and Airbus officials announced plans to enter into the U.S. Air Force’s “Bridge Tanker” program competition, with plans for Lockheed Martin’s LMXT strategic tanker aircraft to be manufactured in Mobile and Marietta, Georgia.
The bridge tanker program calls for aircraft based on existing technology to supplement the Air Force tanker fleet after the last KC-46 is delivered in 2029 to replace the KC-135s that are aging out. This will cover the gap until the service develops its future Advanced Air Refueling Tanker.
Should the company partnership win the Air Force KC-Y tanker competition, Mobile would see a third final assembly line for the A330 built on the Brookley by the Bay property at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley. It would be the first widebody aircraft to be assembled in Mobile. The third assembly line would mean a $450 million investment and 400 direct jobs with an average salary of $60,000 per year.
“Establishing this production work in Alabama and Georgia confirms Lockheed Martin’s commitment that the LMXT will be built in America, by Americans, for Americans,” said Lockheed Martin Chairman, President and CEO James Taiclet.
“Over our 50-year history in the U.S., some of our proudest moments have come from supporting our American service members,” said C. Jeffrey Knittel, chairman and CEO of Airbus Americas. “Our U.S. workforce, which is more than 35 percent military veterans, is eager to see an Air Force tanker join the fleet of Airbus aircraft flying for the U.S. Army, National Guard, Navy and Coast Guard.”
The LMXT would be built on the combat-proven design of the Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT). With Lockheed Martin as the prime contractor, the LMXT will be built in two phases: manufactured first as an A330 airliner at the Airbus facility in Mobile; then converted to the LMXT tanker at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics facility in Marietta.
“This economic development announcement is special,” said David Rodgers, vice president of economic development at the Mobile Chamber. “Most Mobilians can recall the feeling in 2008 when our community lost the original tanker contract. Ultimately, Mobile turned that loss into two new final assembly lines that have created thousands of high-paying jobs. Now, we show the world that we are ready for the next chapter. We show that our workforce is ready to step up to the next challenge and ready to build tankers.”
“Mobile has proven it has a skilled workforce ready to build the world’s very best American-made airplanes,” said City of Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson. “This announcement is just another indication of a bright future ahead for the City of Mobile, Lockheed Martin, Airbus and the defense aviation industry in general. We are grateful for the continued investment in our community from Airbus and welcome Lockheed Martin to what we believe will be a very successful partnership. Our commitment is to continue the investment in our infrastructure and workforce that’s needed to support the future of Airbus and Lockheed Martin. The best is yet to come.”
About the Mobile Chamber
The Mobile Chamber is a private business organization with more than 1,700 members and the economic developer for the City of Mobile and Mobile County. The Mobile Chamber’s focus is to provide members with networking, marketing and professional development opportunities, expand jobs in the area, develop the local workforce, advocate legislative priorities and offer resources to help small businesses grow. Additional information is on the Chamber’s website, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.