Northrop Grumman Defends Lucrative Tanker Deal - - The News for South Mississippi

Northrop Grumman Defends Lucrative Tanker Deal

MOBILE, AL (WLOX) -- "We have the best air force in the world, we have the best men and women serving in the air force, and they deserve the best plane."

Alabama Governor Bob Riley told a crowd of business leaders and officials that the U.S. Air Force made the right decision to award Northrop Grumman and EADS 35 billion dollars, to build 179 aerial tankers.

The KC-45A tankers will be built in Mobile and Europe and have state of the art refueling systems. The tankers will replace the ones built by Boeing since the late 50's.

"This is an American plane, and we are proud this is being built in America," Alabama Governor Bob Riley said.

Northrop Grumman plans to build the plant at this Brookley Field site in Mobile. The Boeing Company, believes Northrop Grumman did not deserve the lucrative contract, in fact they are thinking about protesting the decision.

Northrop Grumman Chief Operation Officer Wes Bush disputes Boeing's claim that the competition was not on a leveled playing field.

"Our selection means the Untied States Air Force and the Department of Defense will receive the most capable tanker," Northrop Grumman's Wes Bush said.

Mobile Mayor Sam Jones agrees.

"It was not judged on the politics of it, it was  not judged on who is going to get what jobs, it was judged on what was the best aircraft," Mobile Mayor Sam Jones said.

Mayor Jones says the tanker deal will bring more than 1400 permanent jobs to his city and surrounding areas.

 "It will enhance the economic position of the entire gulf coast as a whole."

In a statement today, Boeing said that it will give "serious consideration" over the weekend to filing a formal protest of the contract.

Northrop Grumman Officials say if Boeing does not protest the award, they will start building the new aircraft plant late this year in Mobile.

By Patrice Clark

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