Keep the KC-45 Tanker in Mobile Alabama: Katrina country

The US Air Force announced the winner of the KC-X RFP last month. If the USAF can make its choice stick in the face of the political wind coming from Seattle, the new KC-45 refueling tanker will be built in Mobile AL, right across the state line from Pascagoula MS. It will be based on the Airbus A-330, the best selling commercial airplane of its class in the world, which will also be built in Mobile, in the brand-spanking-new EADS North America factory right next to the brand-spanking-new Northrop-Grumman KC-45 factory.

Mobile, the original home (in 1703) of Mardi Gras in the United States and the hometown of baseball legends Satchel Paige and Hank Aaron, is a sleepy, traditional port city in a traditional southern state. The biggest events to hit Mobile are Mardi Gras every spring and the LPGA Tournament of Champions. Seattle, Boeing’s home though not the center of production for their 767 variant tanker, is a huge port in a pleasant and beautiful area that has become a magnet for the hard left and Starbucks coffee culture.

The Mobile area was hit hard from the west by Hurricane Katrina two and a half years ago, and from the east by Ivan a year before that. Though New Orleans gets all the publicity from Katrina, Gulf Shores, only 20 miles to Mobile’s east was hit head on by Ivan, which devastated that vacation community. Pascagoula, 20 miles to the west of Mobile, had 92% of its homes flooded by Katrina and almost every home within two blocks of the beach was rendered uninhabitable.

Full disclosure: I work for NG. I don’t speak for NG. I might be involved at a low level in the initial construction at the Mobile site, but not in the ongoing operation of it. I don’t think the KC-45 factory would have much if any impact on my job for NG. But I know that new high-tech jobs in Mobile would spill over into Mississippi and it would bring a little more prosperity back to the area. This is something the area needs after taking the double-whammy of Ivan and Katrina, with so many being flooded out of their homes.

I know exactly what it’s like to be flooded out. I live a few miles west of Pascagoula and lost just about everything I owned in Katrina. I’ll be carrying extra debt for years because of it. Neither I, nor anyone I care about, wants more handouts. But we do appreciate chances to work hard and add value to companies that do great things. But I’m heading into self-indulgent territory and it’s time to end this tangent. Let’s get back on point.

Northrop-Grumman’s win was by a wide margin. The Northrop-Grumman (NG) KC-45 was the better product on four out of five key measures, and tied on the fifth. One of the unmentioned but important differences is that the KC-45 is based on the bestselling Airbus A330, at the beginning of its production lifetime, while the Boeing KC-767 is based on a plane that has been made for 30 years and is shutting down its production line. The USAF isn’t going out on a limb by selecting the NG design. It would be selecting a defunct design if it chose the other. The A330 won the last four international tanker competitions for tanker aircraft that were held (for Australia, UK, UAE, and Saudi Arabia). The tanker is already seeing action for Australia! The USAF is not alone in buying a tanker based on the A330.

On the Buy American aspect, Boeing is trying to fool people into thinking that its offering is 100% made in America and the NG plane is made in France by Airbus. This is simply not true. The NG plane is made in the USA by Americans, just like the Boeing plane. Both planes have about 30% imported components. Boeing says that its plane would support 40,000 US jobs in 40 states. NG says its plane would support 48,000 jobs in 49 states.

If you live around Mobile and you, like me, support the tanker, then you can express your support to Washington DC by going here and sending a message to your Representatives and Senators. If you don’t live around Mobile, yet you think that competitions should be fair and square and the best competitor should win, regardless of the political power wielded by lobbyists, then send a message too. Your voice will be even more powerful than the voice of people who live in Mobile, because it is devoid of selfish interest.

Please, support the KC-45 tanker decision and Mobile. It’s the right thing to do.


Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, The Virtuous Republic, Rosemary’s Thoughts, Maggie’s Notebook, Right Truth, Adam’s Blog, Shadowscope, Conservative Cat, D equals S, Faultline USA, Nuke Gingrich, third world county, The World According to Carl, Blue Star Chronicles, The Pink Flamingo, A Newt One, Right Voices, Gone Hollywood, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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8 thoughts on “Keep the KC-45 Tanker in Mobile Alabama: Katrina country

  1. Pingback: » Keep the KC-45 Tanker in Mobile Alabama: Katrina country

  2. There is some confusion arising from your statement that the tanker will be built in America, I have a good friend who is an engineer with Airbus in Toulouse and he tells me that the complete aircraft will be built in Europe, in fact Lois Gallois said so in a speech to Employees just after the Air Force announcement, The fuselage will be built in Germany and France, the wings in England, and the Tail and Nose section in Spain. so what remains to be built in America? is the Airframe to be flown over in pieces on the Airbus Beluga, or are they coming by freighter, or even flown over as an assembled airframe with just the military equipment to be installed in Alabama?

  3. Beagle Scout, I’m only somewhat familiar with the NG/Boeing bids for the KC-45 tanker, but I know the people in Alabama need help. Best wishes to you and those in your state who have had such a struggle to get life back to normal.


  4. Hi Ken, thanks for commenting. All I know is what I read in public sources. My statement that the tanker will be built in America comes from NG’s factsheet here.

    # Assembly and militarization of the Northrop Grumman KC-45A tanker will take place in Mobile, Ala., resulting in the creation of 2,000 jobs.
    # The Northrop Grumman KC-45A tanker program does not transfer any jobs from the United States to France or any other foreign country.

    And from further on in the same page.

    # All modern jetliners are built from a global supplier base and both entrants in the KC-45A competition were no exception
    # The Northrop Grumman KC-45A will include approximately 60 percent U.S. content.
    # There are numerous examples of transatlantic cooperation on vital U.S. military programs, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the VH-71 Presidential helicopter and the C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft program.
    # No sensitive military technology will be exported to Europe. For the KC-45A program, a commercial A330 jetliner will be assembled by American workers in EADS’s facility in Mobile. The aircraft will then undergo military conversion in an adjacent Northrop Grumman facility, where all of the critical military technology will be added.

    I was off by 10% on my 70% number. Boeing is in the same ballpark from what I recall. More than half and less than 3/4.

    EADS also issued a follow-up press release to the NG press release that read (from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer):

    UPDATED: Later Wednesday, EADS clarified the Northrop press release.

    It said no jobs would be relocated from Europe to the United States.
    EADS said those 2,000 U.S. jobs would be new ones.

    Sounds like Gallois is getting hammered by French protectionists too, just like NG is getting hammered by Boeing’s protectionists.

    I can’t answer your follow-up question. I’d be speculating. But I gather that “assembled by American workers in EADS’s facility in Mobile” means that it won’t be flown over fully assembled.

    And thanks, Maggie! I appreciate it.


  5. I left off the Senior Bowl and the GMAC Bowl in the list of “big” events in Mobile. heh.

  6. Pingback: Wicker on the KC-45 Contract and Boeing’s Challenge « Beagle Scout


  8. Just like the Japanese, the Europeans are pulling a fast one on us. Although the aircraft may be assembled here, that does not mean the majority of the parts will be fabricated here. More importantly, it will not be Designed or Engineered here. What do we want to become – SLAVE LABORERS or invest in our future by employing young (and old) engineers?

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