By Rosanna Smith, Reporter, WSFA – TV (NBC)
30 March 2017 -- Macon County, AL (WSFA) – Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced on Thursday that Leonardo-DRS, a global aerospace, and defense firm, has placed a bid with the U.S. Air Force competition to assemble aircraft at Tuskegee’s Moton Airfield.
Bentley says if the firm wins the bid, the advanced assembly center would create 750 high-wage, full-time jobs over a 10-year ramp-up period. The project would begin in 2019 and its total investment in the T-100 project’s buildings, infrastructure and equipment would exceed $200 million to $250 million.
Tuskegee and Macon County officials said the project could act as a powerful catalyst for growth.
“Leonardo’s project will have a massive economic impact in Macon County and across the region through the creation of high-paying jobs,” Governor Bentley said. “Moreover, these T-100 training aircraft — built at the site where the legendary Tuskegee Airmen trained during World War II — will prepare a new generation of fighter pilots whose mission is to keep our country safe.”
To establish the operation, the fire will lease a new facility to be built at Moton Airfield by a public-private partnership formed in Macon County. The workforce would perform structural assembly, integration, final assembly and conduct research and testing at the site.
Officials say aircraft deliveries would also take place there.
Leonardo’s twin-engine T-100 is currently being used to train pilots around the world to fly next-generation fighter aircraft. The trainer, based on the company’s proven M-346 aircraft, has been selected for this role by Italy, Israel, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Poland.
“Alabama has a long history of providing critical flight training for military aviators, and historic Moton Field is a perfect home for a facility where world-class training aircraft for U.S. fighter pilots are assembled,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “This is an ideal way to build on the important legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.”
Alabama Senator Luther Strange released this statement:
“Today’s announcement marks an opportunity to reinvent Tuskegee as a hub of innovation and put more Alabamians on the cutting edge of 21st century manufacturing. I am very proud to recognize the committed efforts of state and local leaders in developing this proposal, and to put the spotlight on a community with such a rich aviation history. It is exciting to think that we might soon be watching T-100s made in Tuskegee take to the skies.”
Rep. Martha Roby released this statement:
“When it comes to aviation and aerospace, Alabama has both a proud history and a promising future. This is a growing sector for our state, and I will always work alongside my delegation colleagues to support Alabama-based military projects.”
Officials say the winner of the bid will be announced between Sept. 30 and Dec. 30. If the firm wins the bid, it will join be yet another part of the expanding aerospace industry in the state. Currently, officials say the state is home to more than 300 companies and organizations involved in activities ranging from aircraft and component assembly, raw materials, production, engineering, maintenance and repair, and flight training.
“We look forward to supporting this effort that can lead to renewed vitality of Macon County and the City of Tuskegee,” Mayor Haygood said.
Officials say the winner of the bid will be announced between Sept. 30 and Dec. 30.