Airbus to manufacture aerial refuelling booms for LMXT tanker

The aerial refuelling boom system for Lockheed Martin’s strategic tanker aircraft, LMXT, will be manufactured by Airbus in western Arkansas.

Introduced last year, the LMXT is Lockheed Martin's offering for the US Air Force's KC-Y strategic tanker programme.

"Given the undisputed importance of the US Air Force's strategic refuelling mission, ensuring the LMXT is equipped with critical and relevant technologies for its refuelling system is of paramount importance. Like the LMXT airframe, this refuelling system is proven and low-risk, translating to known and added capabilities for the US Air Force," said Lockheed Martin chairman, president, and CEO James Taiclet. "With this commitment, Arkansas' manufacturing community has the opportunity to contribute to building America's next strategic tanker."

The LMXT is built on the combat-proven design of the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), which is the strategic tanking choice of 14 nations around the world.

LMXT has an established fly-by-wire aerial refuelling boom, which is certified and used by allies to refuel US Air Force aircraft in operations globally, and the world's first fully automatic air-to-air refuelling system.

Airbus' fully automatic air-to-air refuelling in progress
Airbus' fully automatic air-to-air refuelling in progress

"We are excited to continue expanding our U.S. footprint by partnering with the state of Arkansas to create the LMXT refuelling boom production site and centre of excellence. It is an honour to bring Airbus innovation to the state for this and future manufacturing opportunities," said C. Jeffrey Knittel, chairman and CEO of Airbus Americas. "The state-of-the-art boom system is a vital aspect of the overall LMXT offering, and we are proud to be working with Arkansans to build this best-in-class solution for the US Air Force." 

Lockheed Martin's manufacturing presence in Arkansas dates back to 1978 with its Camden Operations facility. This facility is a manufacturing, final assembly, test and storage operation for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (MFC) programmes. Approximately 1,030 employees work in the facility's manufacturing and support buildings.

The LMXT aerial refuelling system work is the first manufacturing opportunity for Airbus in Arkansas, but builds on an extensive manufacturing presence across the south eastern US. Airbus builds the A320 and A220 in Alabama, H125 and UH-72 Lakota helicopters in Mississippi, and satellites in Florida. 

This announcement follows Lockheed Martin's and Airbus' recently publicised plan to expand their footprints in Georgia and Alabama to support future LMXT assembly and configuration. The  LMXT will be built in two phases: 

  • Phase 1: The LMXT is first produced as an A330 airliner at Airbus' Mobile, Alabama, facility, which is where Airbus A320 and A220 commercial airliners are built.
  • Phase 2: The second phase of the manufacturing process includes converting the commercial aircraft into the LMXT tanker at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics' Marietta, Georgia, facility, which is currently home to the C-130J Super Hercules final production and F-35 Lightning II center wing assembly lines.

Integration of the Arkansas-built boom will be included in Phase 2 of the assembly and configuration process.

Related Articles

Piaggio Aerospace wins new Avanti Evo order

French operator Oyonnair, a company specialised in medical and cargo transportation, has signed an order – through its financial arm Investairs - for the purchase of a new P.180 Avanti EVO, the executive aircraft produced by Piaggio Aerospace.
4 weeks ago News
Most recent Articles

Login / Sign up