MOBILE, Alabama (AP) — European plane maker Airbus will produce a civilian freighter in Mobile if the U.S. Air Force selects the company and its North American partner, Northrop Grumman, for a military tanker contract, company and government officials announced Monday.
The refueling tankers would also be produced in Mobile, and the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., which owns Airbus, said producing both new aircraft in Alabama's port city would add to efficiency and ensure a smooth and continuing production flow.
Officials announcing the plans at a news conference in Mobile on Monday said the Airbus work could lead to 300 more jobs at Mobile's Brookley Field.
Airbus Chief Executive Thomas Enders said selection of its KC-30 Tanker by the Air Force would prompt the plane maker to build America's first new commercial aircraft assembly plant in more than 40 years.
''This significant investment would effectively transform EADS and Airbus into a second U.S.-based producer and exporter of large commercial aircraft,'' he said.
Both the KC-30 and the A330 commercial freighter are based on the Airbus A330 twin-engine passenger jet.
Northrop Grumman Corp. is competing with Boeing Co. for the $40 billion (euro26.8 billion) tanker deal. The Air Force is set to award the contract on Jan. 31 following two delays.
Leaders including Alabama Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions are advocates of the North Grumman-EADS project.
''If successful in the KC-30 tanker competition, this new final assembly line will be an important addition to Alabama and the Gulf Coast's growing aerospace and high-technology industries,'' said Gov. Bob Riley.