Tankers used to refuel military aircraft could be made in Marietta

Lockheed says its LMXT tanker will be built partially in Georgia — if it wins a federal government contract (Emil Moffatt/WABE News)

One-thousand new jobs could be coming to Cobb County — if Lockheed Martin wins a contract with the federal government to build a new aerial refueling tanker.

The bidding process could take another two years. But Lockheed says if it prevails, the LMXT strategic tanker would be built in two phases — the first in Mobile, Alabama, and the second in Marietta.

Gov. Brian Kemp says Lockheed’s decision to build the aircraft in Georgia speaks to the quality of technical education in the state.

“That workforce they need at all levels is being produced in our state,” said Kemp. “And I think that’s one reason we’re seeing so many great companies that are coming here or great companies like Lockheed that are able to form partnerships and continue to expand their mission.”

Lockheed’s CEO James Taiclet said the U.S. has to build an “extraordinary workforce” focusing on science, technology, engineering and math.

“We’re investing in promoting STEM education, providing internships and apprenticeship opportunities to people so they can learn a skill and make a living,” said Taiclet.

Lockheed also benefits from significant tax incentives in Georgia. Last year, Kemp signed a bill into law that raises the dollar amount in tax credits and job tax credits the company can claim.

The airframe for the LMXT will be an Airbus A330 — built in partnership with Airbus in Alabama. In Marietta, the aircraft will be converted to the strategic tanker.

Gov. Brian Kemp
Gov. Brian Kemp says companies like Lockheed Martin are looking to Georgia for its skilled workforce (Emil Moffatt/WABE News)

Lockheed already has more than 4,000 employees in Cobb County. The company has had a presence in Marietta since the Korean War and currently makes military transport planes and part of the F-35.

Rod McLean, vice president and general manager of Lockheed’s Marietta site, calls the LMXT “the future for our site.”

“It offers high-tech, high-paying work that benefits Marietta, Cobb County, our great state of Georgia and America for many years to come,” said McLean.