Since our nation was founded, a strong national defense has been fundamental to protecting our country, its citizens and the freedoms we hold so dear.
As part of a strong defense, we must make certain the men and women of our military have the resources they need. As our adversaries make rapid advances in new technology, we must do the same to maintain our technological advantage so that members of the United States military never find themselves in a fair fight. Kansas has played an important role in building critical equipment for our military over the last century. In World War II, for example, Wichita companies built thousands of aircraft to support the war, including 2,766 B-29 Superfortress long-range bombers. Manufacturing thousands of aircraft to meet Department of Defense requirements necessitates a talented workforce, and during that time and the years since, thousands of Wichitans have been critical in the effort to sustain our air superiority in defense of our nation.
This legacy proudly continues into the 21st century. The United States Air Force is developing a new long-range strike bomber – the B-21 Raider – and Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita is a key player of the team in designing and building this vital asset to our nation’s air power. When fielded in the 2020s, the B-21 will be the world’s most advanced stealth bomber, maintaining our military supremacy and air superiority during a time of increasing global instability.
Spirit’s participation on the B-21 continues a rich legacy of building the nation’s aviation and aerospace assets to include the long-range bomber fleet. Thousands of Spirit employees over many generations have built more than 3,500 bomber aircraft for our nation. I am proud Spirit will continue this practice in building America’s next-generation bomber.
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On Friday, I celebrated the hard work of the talented Spirit workforce building the B-21, along with representatives from the U.S. Air Force and Northrop Grumman, the prime contractor leading the B-21 effort. I applaud the employees of Spirit AeroSystems and the thousands of Americans on the B-21 Raider team across the country for their dedication to this important effort. Their hard work will make certain that members of the U.S. Air Force are equipped to handle the many threats our nation faces in the years to come.