Meridian Chosen by Raytheon as Entry Site for Next Generation Trainer Competition, Production

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The entire Mississippi congressional delegation today praised the selection of Mississippi as the potential host to produce of the next generation of trainer aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.

U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Representatives Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), and Trent Kelly (R-Miss.) on Monday said the selection of Meridian by the Raytheon Company for its trainer aircraft production has the potential to expand the state’s role in aerospace manufacturing for years to come.

Raytheon plans to compete its T-100 Integrated Air Training System to be the Air Force’s choice for the next generation of trainers to replace the Eisenhower-era T-38 Talons to be used at pilot training facilities like Columbus Air Force Base. If selected by the Air Force, Raytheon would construct a multi-million dollar facility in Meridian. The Air Force is expected to issue a request for proposal in December, with selection of the new trainer in late 2017.

“New, cutting-edge training aircraft are critical to our national security, and I am confident that Mississippi workers can help provide those planes,” said Cochran, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense. “I look forward to this competition and I am excited that Meridian may play an expanded role in defense of our nation.”

“For more than 30 years, Raytheon has been a strong partner in our state, enhancing national security and providing jobs for hundreds of Mississippi families,” said Wicker, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It is no secret that our state is a leader in aerospace manufacturing and technology. This announcement has tremendous potential for Meridian and the future of the industry in Mississippi.”

“I am very pleased that Raytheon is growing its relationship with the State of Mississippi by building its T-100 training aircraft in Meridian. Mississippi’s talent base is as skilled and prepared for high-tech manufacturing jobs as any in the nation and this is further proof of that,” Thompson said.

Harper commented, “Raytheon’s proposal to build the T-100 in Meridian speaks volumes about our state, our pro-business climate and our people. I am excited to see how this proposed expansion advances our state and strengthens our nation’s defense in the years to come.”

“Today’s announcement proves what a crucial role Mississippi continues to play in our national security efforts. This partnership with Raytheon would be another opportunity for our state to offer our capabilities and workforce in helping serve the common defense of this nation at home and abroad,” Palazzo said.

“Our state continues to be a proven leader in advanced defense manufacturing.” said Kelly. “This is an exciting announcement that holds great potential for future job creation in our state.”

Members of the delegation have worked to promote Mississippi to Raytheon as the best candidate to host its trainer manufacturing facility. Raytheon already has an existing electronic systems manufacturing facility in Forest, which employs about 800 workers.

Joint Press Release from Senators Cochran and Wicker and Reps Thompson, Harper, Palazzo and Kelly