Arkansas nets LMXT tanker boom refuelling system deal

Lockheed Martin and Airbus announced on May 18 that the aerial refuelling boom system for the LMXT strategic tanker aircraft will be manufactured by Airbus in western Arkansas, a key element in a bid that centres around a non-US platform design.

Introduced in September 2021, the LMXT is Lockheed Martin's offering for the US Air Force's KC-Y strategic tanker programme, with the design based on the Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), which is in service with 14 countries globally.

LMXT and F-35 refuelling
Lockheed Martin's LMXT platform is based on the European MRTT tanker, but will see aircraft and boom manufactured in the United States. Lockheed Martin

The Lockheed Martin offering will see a series of US-specific capabilities introduced, including a fly-by-wire aerial refuelling boom. The boom is certified is the world’s first fully automatic air-to-air refuelling (A3R) system, according to the manufacturer.

The exact location of the manufacturing facility has yet to be determined, however Airbus is no stranger to manufacturing in the US, with the commercial A320 and A220 airliners built in Alabama, and H125 and UH-72 Lakota helicopters in Mississippi.

This announcement follows Lockheed Martin's and Airbus' recently publicised plan to expand their footprints in Georgia and Alabama to support future LMXT assembly and configuration.

The LMXT will be built in two phases, which will see the platform produced as an A330 airliner in Alabama, before being converted into the military tanker at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics' Marietta, Georgia, facility, which is currently home to the C-130J Super Hercules final production and F-35 Lightning II centre wing assembly lines.

Integration of the Arkansas-built boom will be included in Phase 2 of the assembly and configuration process.