Airbus has said it before but it is worth reminding people that if Northrop Grumman follows through on its statement that it will not bid the KC-30 in the KC-X competition unless significant changes are made to the Draft Request for Proposals (DRFP), Airbus won’t build an A330-200F assembly plant on its own in Mobile (AL).
We checked with Airbus immediately after Northrop’s announcement and a spokesman confirmed that the company’s position has not changed: there is no “business case” for an A330F final assembly line (FAL) without the KC-30 tanker contract.
In our view, this is more important to Boeing than the prospect of Northrop dropping the KC-30 bid. Airbus needs to reduce its Euro-cost base and the Alabama plant was an important step toward achieving this goal. Once the A330F was established here, we believe the A330P line would have been located in Mobile as well. After that–would another A320 line, or its successor, be moved to Mobile? Would a second A350 line?
Boeing fully understood these questions and strategically it was just as important if not more so to block the Mobile line. Killing the KC-30 was the only way to do so.