GE Aviation is another big gainer in the US Air Force in-flight refueling tanker contract awarded to Northrop Grumman/EADS. Evendale-based GE Aviation will supply the CF6 jet engines for the KC-45A EADS plane that has been selected for the contract. The engine contract is potentially worth more than $5 billion to GE.
The KC-45A is a modification of the Airbus A330 platform.
The Northrop-EADS-GE team landed a historical decision beating a rival bid by Boeing, whose proposed tanker would have featured engines built by traditional GE rival Pratt & Whitney. Boeing has monopolized the refueling tanker programme ever since inception having supplied all aircraft in service currently or in the past.
McDonnel Douglas supplied a small batch in the 1980s, but Boeing also acquired this company. The Boeing version is based on the B767 platform.
Northrop-EADS will construct the modules of their aircraft in Europe and ship parts for final assembly in the US.
According to GE spokesman, Rick Kennedy, the contract for 179 planes spread over 10-to-15 years would include more than 400 engines, at two engines per plane, plus 20 per cent for spares.
General Electric Co already builds about 185 CF6 engines a year and the contract will add to that production.
According to Kennedy, GE's UK-based subsidiary GE Aviation Systems will build the flight management systems for the planes. GE acquired GE Aviation Systems, formerly Smiths Aerospace, in 2007.
The contract is expected to grow much larger eventually with the US Air Force set to replace its entire 600-tanker fleet over the next 30 years.
According to GE, the engines will continue to generate maintenance and replacement parts activity for decades thereafter.