CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Aerospace manufacturers EADS North America and Sargent Fletcher have selected Bridgeport for a combined facility to manufacture components for aerial refueling systems, Gov. Joe Manchin announced Friday.
The new center is contingent, however, upon the selection of Northrop Grumman's KC-30 tanker as the U.S. Air Force's next generation refueling aircraft, according to Manchin and officials with both companies.
Strategic military aircraft employ two kinds of in-flight refueling systems: a flying boom, which looks like a large pipe; and a hose and drogue, which looks like a long garden hose with a basket on the end.
The in-flight refueling systems for the new aircraft would be built at the Bridgeport center, which would employ at least 100 workers. Irvine, Calif.-based EADS would build its advanced aerial refueling boom systems in a 32,000-square-foot plant. El Monte, Calif.-based Sargent Fletcher would build hose and drogue systems in an adjacent 25,000-square-foot plant.
Most of the Air Force's fleet of nearly 600 tankers are more than 40 years old. Although the initial contract will be for 179 tankers, the Air Force's long-range plan is to replace almost all of its tanker fleet over the next two to three decades.
''Although the Air Force has not completed selection of the contractor to build the new refueling aircraft, EADS' and Sargent Fletcher's commitment to West Virginia reaffirms that we are making great progress in attracting world-class companies to the Mountain State,'' Manchin said.
''These would be good-paying jobs with benefits, and it would open the door to additional aerospace and defense contractor opportunities,'' he said.