Aviation

Spirit’s work on new B-21 bomber will require new jobs

B-21 Raider strike bomber

Wichita-based Spirit AeroSystems celebrated its role on the new B-21 Raider long-range strike bomber at an event Friday with contractor Northrop Grumman. (Courtesy of Northrop Grumman/June 2, 2017)
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Wichita-based Spirit AeroSystems celebrated its role on the new B-21 Raider long-range strike bomber at an event Friday with contractor Northrop Grumman. (Courtesy of Northrop Grumman/June 2, 2017)

Nearly 15 months after being named one of seven subcontractors to the new B-21 Raider bomber, Spirit AeroSystems marked the selection with a celebration Friday.

The event that featured speeches from Northrop Grumman corporate vice president Janis Pamiljans and Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets IV was largely symbolic.

It offered little new information about Spirit’s role in the long-range strike bomber — except that Spirit will add new jobs.

Spirit officials declined to say how many new jobs will come with the new bomber work or when that hiring will begin.

Officials of the Wichita-based aircraft supplier that employs 10,800 locally also would not disclose the exact work the company will do on the v-shaped aircraft that will be the nation’s newest stealth bomber.

Spirit senior vice president of defense programs Duane Hawkins, however, said the company will “play a big part” in the B-21.

“It’s a great honor for us to be a part of this,” he said to a group of about 350 employees attending the celebration.

Northrop’s Pamiljans expressed confidence in Hawkins’ pledge to deliver his company’s quality parts on-time. Pamiljans told employees they’ve got a big job ahead of them.

“Our partnership with Spirit AeroSystems is so important,” he said. “We celebrate today the journey of a lot of hard work going forward.”

Tibbets, commander of the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., said when he started out as a B-2 bomber pilot in 1999, he took for granted that the airplane would always bring he and his crew safely home — underscoring the importance of the Spirit’s work on the Air Force’s next-generation stealth bomber.

Tibbets is the grandson of World War II pilot Paul Tibbetts Jr., whose plane, the Enola Gay, dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan.

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark

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