U.S. News

Gregoire, Murray boost Boeing in tanker bid


Gov. Chris Gregoire and Sen. Patty Murray said Monday that an estimated 11,000 jobs in Washington will be saved or created if Boeing Co. wins the Air Force contract to build the next generation of refueling tankers.

"Boeing is ready for this contract. Washington is ready for this contract. Our worker are ready to start building it tomorrow," Gregoire said.

Murray said the jobs are a reminder of what's at stake for the state.

"A robust aerospace industry in Washington state affects our businesses, schools, communities and families," she said.

Gregoire and Murray appeared Monday with Everett-area officials and union members holding signs that read "Doing it right in the USA" and "Best tanker made by American workers."

The order for 179 planes worth $35 billion would extend the life of the Boeing 767 line at the factory in Everett and would likely lead to more orders for the air-refueling plane.

Boeing is competing with the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., which makes the Airbus. The Pentagon plans to award the contract in August.

The Pentagon has been trying for seven years to start the process to replace Boeing KC-135 tankers that date from the 1950s. Past attempts have failed repeatedly for reasons ranging from bungling by the Pentagon to the criminal convictions of a Boeing executive and a top Defense Department official.

The Air Force formally reopened the bidding earlier this year.

The 11,000 jobs represent those supported or retained in both the tanker and 767 commercial jetliner programs, said Elizabeth Lund, Boeing 767 general manager. She did not have a breakdown on jobs just from the tanker aspect.

Gregoire and Murray said the tanker program would impact a total of 50,000 jobs and 800 suppliers nationally. Seventy of those suppliers are in Washington state.