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Last updated 4:57PM ET
March 7, 2021
Lt. Gov. Defends Mobile's Air Force Contract
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - Alabama's top Democrat has stepped up his defense of the Air Force's selection of Northrop Grumman and European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. for a refueling tanker contract that will create 2,000 jobs in Mobile.

The stance by Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. puts him on the opposite side of some national Democrats who have criticized the contract.

In a letter sent to the nation's other lieutenant governors Friday, Folsom wrote, "The announcement by the Speaker of the House that Congress would be investigating the award of the contract has created a whirlwind of media coverage. As a result, a vast amount of misinformation has been reported distorting the facts surrounding the award, and making any impartial evaluation of this situation problematic."

Folsom spokesman Chip Hill said Folsom decided to write the letter after attending a national convention of lieutenant governors in Washington in mid-March and hearing much discussion and lots of misinformation about the contract.

Chicago-based Boeing Co., which lost the competition for the $35 billion contract, filed a protest March 11 with the Government Accounting Office, which has until June to rule on it.

Some in Congress have expressed concerns about parts for the planes being made overseas by Paris-based EADS, parent firm of Boeing rival Airbus.

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, members of the state's congressional delegation, and the Legislature, through a resolution, have defended the selection process, which is supposed to result in a tanker assembly plant in Mobile and the creation of 2,000 jobs.

On March 4, Folsom wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying congressional hearings on the contract would delay its positive impact on Alabama.

In Folsom's letter Friday, the former Alabama governor listed experts who have defended the selection process.

"The opinions of these experts are only bolstered when evaluated against other contract selections in foreign countries in which Northrop Grumman and Boeing competed. On similar projects of scale and scope, Northrop was selected over the same competitor for four of six awards," Folsom wrote.

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