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Southern Guvs Start Tanker Group


The governors of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi completed a move we first reported several months ago, setting up a non-profit group to bolster their chances of getting jobs from award of the KC-45 tanker contract.

Governors Bob Riley (R-Ala), Haley Barbour (R-Miss.), and Bobby Jindal (R- La.) launched  The Aerospace Alliance, intended to "establish the Gulf Coast  and surrounding region as a world class aerospace, space and aviation corridor."

As the press release about the new group said: "Members will advocate for policies, programs and specific aerospace projects on the local, state and national level."

But job one -- and maybe its most important job ever -- is to "help secure the KC-45 aerial tanker program for the region. " How much does that matter to the governors and their constituents? The Northrop Grumman tankers would be assembled in Mobile, Ala. While the three states would not get all of them, the Northrop bird would bring bringing an estimated 48,000 jobs to the country.

“We look forward to working with governors and leaders of Aerospace Alliance states, and the many members and supporters of The Alliance, to spread the word to the rest of the world.” said Mitch Waldman, Northrop Grumman VP for aerospace systems. There was no mention of who is funding the alliance, but it would seem a safe bet that Northrop and its suppliers are putting serious money into the alliance.

Winning the tanker deal would create a new aerospace center in the country, with enormous industrial capabilities that could probably only be matched in Washington state, where Boeing has most of its metal bending operations.

“Last year taught us something: while we all know about our long tradition of aerospace excellence and the quality and skill sets of our workforce, obviously some parts of the country (Kansas and Washington State), might not be aware," Gov. Riley said.

Lest observers think the tanker is the alliance's only priority, the release says the group will try to increase the "aerospace, aviation, space and defense industries in the region" generally.

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