European rival EADS — not Boeing — will have Wichita presence come 2014

Boeing is leaving Wichita, Kan., but the European firm it battled for a decade over a lucrative military contract is staying put.

Guy Hicks, EADS North America communications and government-relations chief, told The Hill his firm has no intention of closing its engineering facility in Wichita.

That EADS, and not Boeing, will have a presence in Kansas come 2014 is merely the latest twist in the decade-old Air Force tanker saga.

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Boeing announced Wednesday it would shutter its operation there, saying it no longer makes business sense to keep it open. It will close by the end of next year.

Boeing had for nearly a decade vowed to assemble Air Force tanker planes there if it won a contract to do so. It did last year, but altered course Wednesday, announcing the tanker would be built in Washington state.

The Wichita facility's 2,100 current jobs will be lost, and it will not get around 7,500 more long promised by Boeing to assemble the new flying gas stations.


The move drew the ire of Kansas's congressional delegation Wednesday, with several accusing Boeing executives of lying to them.

During the competition, Kansas lawmakers were extremely tough on EADS over issues such as the government aid it receives from European nations.

But after next year, it will be the lone manufacturer of massive military planes with an operation there.

"EADS has an Airbus engineering center in Wichita that is approaching its 10th-year anniversary of operations," Hicks said. "We have expanded our employment base over that 10-year period, a reflection of our commitment to the Wichita area, our workforce and the local industry."

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