Kansas political leaders celebrated Boeing's win of an aerial refueling contract, which Gov. Sam Brownback described as the "largest military contract in world history," this afternoon.
"I've been waiting a decade to be able to say this: We won it. We're going to build it," Brownback said during a news conference at Boeing Wichita headquarters.
Sen. Pat Roberts said he was traveling in the snow from Junction City to Topeka Thursday when the Secretary of the Air Force called him to announce the news.
Winning the tanker contract is good for America and for national security, he said.
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"The game is over; the 15th round is over; the clock shows zero zero zero," Roberts said.
Former Rep. Todd Tiahrt said he thought Boeing lost the contract three years ago, when it the contract was award to an EADS/Northrup Grumman team before being overturned.
"This is a story of getting knocked down, for fighting for a whole decade to get the right answer," Tiahrt said.
It's a story of working across party lines and of labor and management coming together to work for the common effort, he said.
"We stood shoulder to shoulder to get an American tanker made by American workers by an American company," Tiahrt said as some Boeing employees and others began chanting "Tanker Todd, Tanker Todd, Tanker Todd."
The tanker "is the lynch pin of our defense system," Tiahrt said. "You can't move men and materials without it."
The tanker contract will create thousands of jobs in Kansas, Boeing has said.
Tiahrt said after the news conference that he didn't think EADS will protest the award.
In 2008, the Government Accountability Office upheld Boeing's protest, saying that the process was unfair.
In this round, the requirements were tighter and laid out much clearer, Tiahrt said.
"I think there's no room to protest," he said.