TUSKEGEE, Ala. (WRBL) - We are just weeks or days away from learning if the United States Air Force will select Leonardo DRS, a global aerospace and defense contractor, to manufacture their new fleet of aircraft flight trainers at Moton Field in Macon County.
If Leonardo DRS wins the bid, the economic development project will represent a multi-billion dollar economic impact for Macon County and surrounding areas, transforming the community for generations in an economic re-birth for the struggling Tuskegee area.
Moton Field is known all over the world as the home of the Tuskegee Airmen; the brave and talented military pilots who fought for America while overcoming widespread racism during World War II. Now, the community and economic development leaders are hoping history lands again on the hallowed ground.
"Anytime someone says how can Tuskegee pull off a project like this, I say all you have to do is flip in your history books. The spirit of the men who learned how to fly and defended Europe. The spirit is still here in Macon County," said Joe Turnham, director of Macon County's Economic Development Authority.
Any day, Tuskegee will learn if the U.S. Air Force contracts with global defense firm, Leonardo DRS to replace its fleet of the TX-Trainer Jets. Leonardo chose Moton Field out of 142 locations as their manufacturing, research, and development site.
"The contract on the TX-Trainer, if it goes to T-100 in Tuskegee, is for 350 to 500 aircraft over 20 years. The low end is $16-$17 billion dollars awarded to the high end of $30-$40 billion with other allies and international orders," explained Turnham.
Lockheed Martin and Boeing are still in the running. However, Turnham believes Leonardo leads because the contractor has the most proven aircraft trainer and their bid creates the most American jobs.
"750 direct jobs in the plant as well as 4 to 5 times that in spinoff jobs. This would mean a gross domestic product of $303 million per year. That's a 3 billion dollar injection into the Macon County Community over ten years," said Turnham.
"When We Win" is the motto behind a team of congressional, state and local leaders who've worked for years to bring this project to Moton Field and an economic re-birth to Macon County.
"This would be a great way for the American government to say we honor the history and we honor your future. You can do this, and we are going to put this project in Tuskegee at Moton Field," Turnham said.
Along with thousands of high paying jobs, the facility will serve as a pipeline for Tuskegee and Auburn University Aerospace students. It will pump millions almost immediately into the local economy; drastically improving schools and overall quality of life.
Turnham expects to learn who the U.S. Air Force chooses within the next weeks or even days. The announcement could come as early as the Friday before Labor day or by the end of September. News 3 will keep you updated.
Click here for more information on the project: T-100 Tuskegee Project Information