Another win for the state of Alabama

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 1, 2008

On Feb. 29, 2008, the United States Air Force announced the Northrop Grumman/EADS team won the contract to assemble and modify our military&8217;s next generation of air refueling tankers, known as the KC-45.

Mobile is expected to gain 1,500 jobs with the tanker contract, an additional 300 jobs with the commercial A330 work and approximately 5,000 supplier-related jobs statewide &8212; contributing $875 million annually to Alabama&8217;s economy.

While it is a huge win for Alabama, this acquisition program will have ramifications well beyond the state line. The entire region, and many areas throughout the country, will see the positive impact of this selection.

The initial order of 179 aircraft, valued at $40 billion over the next decade, will have a total annual economic impact of more than $1 billion on the U.S. economy.

Some in Congress falsely proclaimed that our military was selling out to a foreign country, that this award would outscore U.S. jobs and that these planes should be made in America.

The facts behind this selection should allay any of my colleagues&8217; fears or concerns. Northrop Grumman/EADS capable, advanced, multi-mission tankers will be made in America by American workers.

The Air Force is not outsourcing jobs with this selection; it is doing the exact opposite &8212; bringing in jobs &8212; to the tune of 25,000 additional jobs at more than 230 companies around the country.

Five factors were used to score the two competing proposals: mission capability, proposal risk, past performance, price and Integrated Fleet Air Refueling Assessment, also known as IFARA. In every single category, the Northrop Grumman/EADS KC-30 exceeded the Boeing KC-767. Simply put, the KC-30 platform is far superior in every way.

This illustrates that the Air Force made the right selection not only for the men and women in uniform, but for the taxpayer as well.

Approximately three years ago our congressional delegation, elected state and local officials and community leaders made the case to EADS that Mobile was the ideal location for the tanker production facility.

It was an uphill battle as we fought off countless erroneous attacks against the Northrop/EADS offering. We were always considered the underdogs against a behemoth defense giant. No one ever imagined that Mobile would be home to the production of a new U.S. Air Force tanker and Airbus&8217; A330 commercial work.

In the end, however, our journey proved fruitful.