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Boeing OKC secures $14.3 billion committment from Air Force

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A B-52 makes a connection with a refueling boom during a practice refueling flight of an Air Force Reserve KC-135 Stratotanker out of Tinker Air Force Base in this photo from 2016.  [The Oklahoman Archives]
A B-52 makes a connection with a refueling boom during a practice refueling flight of an Air Force Reserve KC-135 Stratotanker out of Tinker Air Force Base in this photo from 2016. [The Oklahoman Archives]

The Department of Defense has approved a $14.3 billion contract to Boeing Co. for work on B-1 Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress aircraft in Oklahoma City.

The contract will be for modification, modernization, engineering, sustainment and tests of the bombers' weapons systems. Funds can be allocated with separate task orders over the next 10 years.

Work will be done at Tinker Air Force Base, which is a significant part of the Air Force's maintenance, repair and overhaul network. Tinker already has been selected as the maintenance site for the long-range stealth bomber known as the B-21 Raider, which eventually will replace the B-1 and B-52. The Raider is expected to be delivered sometime in the mid 2020s.

Tinker is home to maintenance operations for several large military aircraft, including the new KC-46A Pegasus refueling tanker. Hangars for the Pegasus are now under construction at the base.

The contract that was announced last week will be a continuation of a similar contract awarded a decade ago to service the U.S. Air Force aircraft. A statement from the Pentagon noted the contract could include hardware and software development and integration, ground and flight testing, configuration management, studies and analyses and modernization.

"That's great news for our workforce here," Boeing spokeswoman Lori Rasmussen said. "Boeing's employment numbers in Oklahoma have been on an upward trend. They are expected to remain so. The bombers' modernization efforts will continue to play a significant role in the growth of the Oklahoma City site."

Boeing's first project under the new award will be for an advanced extremely high-frequency communications integration study costing an expected $1.2 million, Rasmussen said.

Boeing was the only company solicited for the contract because it is the original equipment manufacturer and owns all airframe and systems data, which limits the ability for competition, the Pentagon said.

Dale Denwalt

Dale Denwalt has closely followed state policy and politics since his first internship as an Oklahoma Capitol reporter in 2006. He graduated from Northeastern State University in his hometown of Tahlequah. Denwalt worked as a news reporter in... Read more ›

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