EADS chief executive Louis Gallois says that the decision by Northrop Grumman not to bid on the KC-X tanker contract "does not diminish our commitment to the US".
During its initial bid to replace the aging US Air Force tanker, Northrop Grumman, EADS and Airbus committed to bringing final assembly of the A330-200 freighter to Mobile, Alabama in addition to the KC-45 if it won the contract.
"As we look for opportunities to create an industrial presence here, we expect that Mobile will continue to be a very strong candidate for all the reasons Airbus was attracted to Mobile as the location for a planned tanker [final assembly line]," says Airbus North America VP of communications, Clay McConnell.
McConnell adds that "there is no timetable for moving A330F out of Toulouse at this point. But let me reiterate the longer-term goal we have of bringing some industrialisation into the US, whether that's A330F or something else".
McConnell stresses that "bottom line, nothing changes" with an Airbus engineering facility that already employs more than 150 operating in Mobile, and adds staffing "will grow substantially over the next couple of years".