Aerospace firms choose Bridgeport for aerial refueling center of excellence

By The West Virginia Record | Oct 25, 2007

CHARLESTON -- Gov. Joe Manchin last week announced that two aerospace manufacturers have selected Bridgeport as the site for a new aerial refueling center of excellence that would provide key components for the Northrop Grumman KC-30 Tanker.

CHARLESTON -- Gov. Joe Manchin last week announced that two aerospace manufacturers have selected Bridgeport as the site for a new aerial refueling center of excellence that would provide key components for the Northrop Grumman KC-30 Tanker.

Manchin joined executives from EADS North America and Sargent Fletcher to announce that the new facility would produce and support EADS' advanced Aerial Refueling Boom System and Cobham's under-wing hose and drogue refueling system, which is developed by its U.S. subsidiary, Sargent Fletcher.

The Bridgeport site was chosen from locations in several states, and is contingent upon the selection of Northrop Grumman's KC-30 Tanker as the U.S. Air Force's next generation aerial refueling aircraft.

The facility would employ at least 100 skilled workers, and co-locate the production operations of EADS North America and Sargent Fletcher into two adjacent facilities at Harrison County's North Central West Virginia Regional Airport.

"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. If finalized, this new aerial refueling center of excellence will be an important addition to our growing aerospace and high-technology industries."

EADS North America will supply the KC-30 Tanker's fly-by-wire Aerial Refueling Boom System from a new 32,000 sq. ft. production site, while Sargent Fletcher is to build the aircraft's two digital underwing hose and drogue pods at an adjacent 25,000 sq. ft. facility.

Ralph D. Crosby Jr., EADS North America Chairman and CEO, said Bridgeport was chosen after examination of a number of sites across the country.

"Bridgeport offers a solid combination of location, community support and skilled workforce necessary to execute this critical national security program," Crosby said. "In particular, Gov. Manchin and the West Virginia congressional delegation have a demonstrated record of support for industry.

"This investment decision - along with our previous selection of Mobile, Ala., as the potential site of the KC-30 Tanker final assembly facility - reflects EADS' firm commitment to create jobs and insource advanced critical technologies into the United States."

In addition to ARBS assembly activities for the U.S. Air Force KC-30 Tankers, EADS North America's West Virginia facility also would provide long-term support and maintenance for the boom on in-service aircraft.

EADS North America is the North American operations of EADS, the second-largest aerospace and defense company in the world. More information about EADS North America is available at www.eadsnorthamerica.com.

Sargent Fletcher was established in 1940 and has manufactured more probe and drogue aerial refueling systems, special purpose pods, and external fuel tanks than any other company in the world. More information about the company is available at www.sargentfletcher.com.

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