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Dan Catchpole |
Published: Tuesday, May 12, 2009, 11:51 a.m.

Boeing expands its presence in Alabama

In today’s “things that make you go hmmm …” news:

Boeing is moving its missile defense systems headquarters to Alabama from Arlington, Virginia.

"Huntsville is a leader in the aerospace industry, and Boeing is proud of its 47-year partnership with this community, which now includes work on defense, space and commercial programs," Greg Hyslop, vice president and general manager for Boeing Missile Defense Systems, said in a press statement.

The move leaves Boeing workers in the Puget Sound region with a few things to ponder:

First, there’s concern among Washington lawmakers and Boeing observers that the company might eventually flee the state ... potentially for the South.

Remember, though, Boeing already has about 3,200 employees in Alabama working on other missile defense work, the International Space Station, Future Combat Systems, Avenger, and engineering for the 787 and the P-8A Poseidon.

Of course, Alabama is where Boeing’s rivals for the U.S. Air Force tanker contract, Northrop Grumman and EADS, will assemble their KC-30 tanker if they win.

That leads to the second somewhat curious aspect of Boeing’s move.

During the last round of competition for the tanker contract, a Boeing official insinuated Alabama workers perhaps weren’t capable of producing the Northrop-EADS tanker:

The Mobile Press Register quoted a Boeing official, Gary Mears, as saying:

“You’ve got all these sections coming into Mobile with people who’ve never seen them before. It’s like being in the living room on Christmas morning, surrounded by boxes and you’re trying to put a tricycle together for the first time. It adds risk, and the Air Force is going to look at that.”

So, Alabama workers can’t assemble a tricycle but they can be in charge of missile defense systems?

Hmmm ….

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