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Marshall wins U.S. tanker supply deal

by Staff Writers
Cambridge, England (UPI) May 4, 2011
Britain's Marshall Aerospace will supply body fuel tanks of the U.S. Air Force's new KC-X in-flight refueling tanker.

Each refueling tanker, which is based on the Boeing 767, will carry four fuel tanks that will increase flight range and refueling capability of the planes, military news Web site reports. The deal could amount to sales of around $165 million over the duration of the program, the company said.

"Marshall Aerospace is extremely proud to be contributing to this program with its U.K.-based world-class engineering skills and experience," Marshall Aerospace Chief Executive Officer Steve Fitz-Gerald said in a statement. "Over the past few months we have been supporting Boeing with definition and risk reduction work and we are now looking forward to starting the detailed work on the program."

It constitutes a small success for the European defense industry after the Pentagon, in a major blow to European giant EADS, earlier this year awarded the $30 billion KC-X contract for 179 in-flight refueling tankers to rival Boeing.

The companies had competed for the deal for nearly a decade, with the award date having been pushed back several times.

EADS had thrown its KC-45 tanker, a large plane based on the Airbus A330, into the race.

EADS and Boeing said their plane program would secure employment for around 50,000 Americans.

The Boeing plane is slightly smaller and probably cheaper than the KC-45 and has received substantial support from U.S. lawmakers. The European plane has logged more flight testing hours and was closer to serial production.

Based in Cambridge, England, Marshall Aerospace has supplied several other Boeing planes in the past, including the 747, 777 and P-8 Poseidon models.

With a workforce of around 1,600 people, Marshall Aerospace is a major supplier for the aerospace industry. Its technicians also maintain and supply large transport planes such as the U.S. Air Force's Lockheed Martin's C-130, which is busy flying British and U.S. troops in and out of Afghanistan.

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