(ST. LOUIS) -- On Thursday, Air Force Secretary Mike Donley announced that the Boeing Company had won a $35 billion contract to build the next generation aerial refueling tanker aircraft that will replace 179 of the service's 400 KC-135 tankers.
"Boeing was the clear winner," said Deputy Defense Secretary Bill Lynn in a news conference Thursday.
According to the contract's terms, Boeing will "design, develop, manufacture and deliver 18 initial combat-ready tankers by 2017," the company announced on its Web site.
"We're honored to be given the opportunity to build the Air Force's next tanker and provide a vital capability to the men and women of our armed forces," said Jim McNerney, Boeing chairman, president and CEO. "Our team is ready now to apply our 60 years of tanker experience to develop and build an airplane that will serve the nation for decades to come."
The new aircraft, which will be known as the KC-46A, is expected to provide the "best value for taxpayers" and support approximately 50,000 U.S. jobs with Boeing.
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