Airbus May Build Tankers In Wichita

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While Boeing may think that it has the U.S. military market secured, Airbus seem to believe that there is opportunity for it to capture part of this coveted aircraft market. BusinessWeek magazine is reporting that Airbus might set up a plant to make U.S. military tankers in Wichita, Kan. The magazine's article adds that up to 1,000 workers may be hired. According to the report, EADS, Airbus' parent company, has set aside $10 million for a feasibility study, which is currently underway. Officially, Airbus officials deny any interest in setting up a tanker plant, but it has been widely reported -- and confirmed by company officials in some instances -- that Airbus wants to carve a niche out of the U.S. military aircraft pie. In fact, EADS previously attempted to sell the Airbus A330 airliner to the U.S. government to replace the Air Force's fleet of aging KC-135 refueling tankers. But the Air Force decided that the A330 did not meet all of its tanker requirements. Citing "officials familiar with the plan," the article -- titled "Airbus: Zeroing in on Kansas" -- says the new proposed facility would manufacture A330 tankers for the Pentagon and is also considering another site in Kansas City, Kan. Airbus is no stranger to Kansas, as the European aerospace giant opened an engineering facility last March in Wichita's Old Town for the wing design and manufacture of its A380 555-passenger super jumbo jet. The company announced in October it would construct plants in Arkansas and northeastern Mississippi to build a prototype mobile field hospital and manufacture aircraft components.