Aviation

Workers at this Cowley County plant will help keep U.S. spy planes in the air

FILE - This Oct. 12, 2008 file photo shows a U.S. U2 reconnaissance plane taking off at the U.S. airbase in Osan, south of Seoul, South Korea. The U-2 spy plane outlasted the Cold War, outlived its successor and helped avert the worlds nuclear annihilation a half century ago. (AP Photo/ Lee Jin-man, File)
FILE - This Oct. 12, 2008 file photo shows a U.S. U2 reconnaissance plane taking off at the U.S. airbase in Osan, south of Seoul, South Korea. The U-2 spy plane outlasted the Cold War, outlived its successor and helped avert the worlds nuclear annihilation a half century ago. (AP Photo/ Lee Jin-man, File) AP

Some Cowley County workers will have a hand in the upkeep of the Air Force’s fleet of spy planes.

GE Aviation’s Strother Field plant, located between Winfield and Arkansas City, will share in an $85 million contract for the upkeep of the engines that power the U-2S spy plane. That’s according to a Department of Defense contract awards list released Thursday.

The five-year contract calls for the GE plant about 54 miles southeast of Wichita to provide support to the U-2S’ F118-101 jet engine, which was manufactured by GE.

The Defense Department said the engine work also will be done at a GE facility in Ohio.

The Strother Field plant has about 700 employees whose work also includes assembling GE engines for Embraer E170 and E175 regional passenger jets as well as its new Passport engine that powers Bombardier’s new Global 7000 business jet.

According to the most recent Air Force fact sheet, its fleet comprises 33 U-2s developed by Lockheed Martin. The U-2S is used for high-altitude, all-weather surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark

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