EADS North America publicly raised the stakes in the Air Force’s KC-X tanker competition yesterday by announcing that it would build Airbus A330 civilian freighter aircraft in Mobile Ala., in addition to USAF KC-30 tankers, if it and teammate Northrop Grumman prevail in the KC-X contest. The company thus held out the added bone of additional high-skilled jobs and long-term economic growth for the state and the American South. “Today’s announcement is a historic opportunity for Airbus, EADS, and for the US aerospace industry,” said Thomas Enders, Airbus president and CEO. “Selection of the KC-30 by the US Air Force will not only provide the world’s most capable military tanker, it also will result in the establishment of the first large commercial aircraft assembly facility in the US in over 40 years—and the first such Airbus assembly facility in the US.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.