By Kim Chandler
TUSKEGEE, Ala. (AP) — The home of the Tuskegee Airmen, who shattered aviation and racial barriers in World War II, is competing to become the manufacturing site of a new Air Force training jet.
Gov. Robert Bentley and Macon County officials announced Thursday that the state and the community have put together an incentive package to try to help Italian-based Leonardo DRS land the contract to build the new trainer in Tuskegee. The company’s bid was submitted Thursday morning.
At least four companies are competing for the contract that’s expected to be awarded later this year. If successful, the aircraft manufacturer would build a new factory at Moton Field, where the Tuskegee Airmen trained. The facility would bring 750 jobs paying $23-hour to the area.
In a press conference announcing the proposal, the governor and company officials paid homage to the history of the Tuskegee Airmen and expressed hope that their training field can again play a role in aviation’s future.
“I’m struck by the rich history here at Moton Field. We stand here on the shoulders of heroes,” Leonardo DRS CEO William J. Lynn said.
Joe Turnham, director of the Macon County Economic Development Authority, said the total incentive package is valued at $100 million.
Lynn said the generous support from the state and community will help the company offer a competitive price to build the training aircraft.
The Tuskegee Airmen is the name given to an African-American squadron that flew in World War II. Their story depicted in the 2012 movie “Red Tails.”
Leonardo is offering its T-100 aircraft to the bid.