Lockheed Martin and Airbus leaders announced the aerial refueling boom system for the LMXT strategic tanker aircraft will be manufactured by Airbus in western Arkansas. Introduced in September 2021, the LMXT is Lockheed Martin’s offering for the U.S. Air Force’s KC-Y strategic tanker program.
“Given the undisputed importance of the U.S. Air Force’s strategic refueling mission, ensuring the LMXT is equipped with critical and relevant technologies for its refueling system is of paramount importance. Like the LMXT airframe, this refueling system is proven and low-risk, translating to known and added capabilities for the U.S. 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. Offering several distinct U.S. Air Force-only capabilities designed to meet operator requirements, the LMXT offers advantages like an established fly-by-wire aerial refueling boom. Currently certified and used by allies to refuel U.S. Air Force aircraft in operations globally, the world’s first fully automatic air-to-air refueling (A3R) system is a discrete asset.
“We are excited to continue expanding our U.S. footprint by partnering with the state of Arkansas to create the LMXT refueling boom production site and center of excellence. It is an honor 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 U.S. Air Force.”
While the exact location of the manufacturing facility has yet to be determined, it will expand Airbus’ footprint into “The Natural State.” Manufacturing plays a significant role in the Arkansas economy, accounting for about 15% of the state’s economic output. More than 12% of all Arkansas residents are employed by the manufacturing industry, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.