Lockheed Martin, Airbus to locate new aerospace facility in western Arkansas, if contract awarded

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 7,379 views 

If Lockheed Martin and Airbus win a U.S. Air Force award for an aerial refueling system, the two companies plan to locate the manufacturing facility for the project in western Arkansas, the companies announced Wednesday (May 18).

The location of the potential facility was not revealed and total cost of the contract award has yet to be revealed.

Lockheed Martin and Airbus officials told Talk Business & Politics on Wednesday their aerial refueling boom system for the LMXT strategic tanker aircraft would be built in western Arkansas, although a timeframe for the decision was pending. An expected 60-100 “highly skilled aerospace manufacturing jobs” would be created, a spokesperson for Lockheed Martin said.

The work is contingent on the awarding of a contract by the U.S. Air Force to Lockheed Martin for the LMXT strategic tanker. Air Force officials have said in published reports they are reviewing the tanker fleet to determine how to best support future mission requirements, to include a possible KC-Y tanker.

According to Lockheed Martin, the Air Force would need to issue a Request For Proposal (RFP) and Lockheed Martin would put forth the LMXT strategic tanker for that request. Today’s announcement is a commitment by Lockheed Martin and Airbus to build the LMXT’s boom in western Arkansas should that contract award be secured.

“Given the undisputed importance of the U.S. Air Force’s strategic refueling mission, ensuring the LMXT is equipped with critical and relevant technologies for its refueling system is of paramount importance. Like the LMXT airframe, this refueling system is proven and low-risk, translating to known and added capabilities for the U.S. Air Force,” said Lockheed Martin Chairman, President and CEO James Taiclet. “With this commitment, Arkansas’ manufacturing community has the opportunity to contribute to building America’s next strategic tanker.”

The LMXT is built on the combat-proven design of the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), which is the strategic tanking choice of 14 nations. Offering several distinct U.S. Air Force-only capabilities designed to meet operator requirements, the LMXT offers advantages like an established fly-by-wire aerial refueling boom.

“We are excited to continue expanding our U.S. footprint by partnering with the state of Arkansas to create the LMXT refueling boom production site and center of excellence. It is an honor to bring Airbus innovation to the state for this and future manufacturing opportunities,” said C. Jeffrey Knittel, chairman and CEO of Airbus Americas. “The state-of-the-art boom system is a vital aspect of the overall LMXT offering, and we are proud to be working with Arkansans to build this best-in-class solution for the U.S. Air Force.”

While Airbus would be new to the state, Lockheed Martin has had a manufacturing presence in Camden, Ark., since 1978. The Maryland-based company builds missile and fire control systems and employs more than 1,000 workers in state.

“Lockheed Martin consistently sets the standard for aerospace and defense worldwide and significantly contributes to Arkansas’ robust aerospace and defense industry,” said Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “Arkansas has the tools in place to help high-tech manufacturing succeed, and I’m pleased that Lockheed Martin and Airbus see themselves growing here in our state as they look to the future in the defense industry.”