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Boeing to Close Wichita Aircraft Plant Employing 2,160

Boeing has announced it will close its plant in Wichita, KS by the end of 2013 that employs more than 2,160 workers maintaining and converting planes for the military.

The aircraft giant attributed the move to anticipated cuts to the U.S. defense budget. Kansas officials told Reuters they felt Boeing had reneged on its commitments to the state, which strongly supported the company’s successful effort to win a big refueling aircraft contract from the U.S. Air Force.

The Wichita plant is the base for the company’s Global Transport & Executive Systems business, which supports the U.S. Air Force’s executive fleet, its B-52 bomber and 767-based aerial tanker programs.

The first job cuts are expected in the third quarter. Boeing said it still expects to make purchases worth billions of dollars with Kansas-based suppliers.

Work on the 767-based KC-46 tankers, picked last year as the new refueling aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, will be relocated in Puget Sound, WA. Other aircraft maintenance and engineering work is moving to Texas and Oklahoma.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, said the move was disappointing, especially since he and other Kansas officials had worked hard to support Boeing through its 10-year battle to win the refueling plane contract.

Boeing had said the new tanker would add 7,500 jobs in the state.

President Obama and Congress, in an effort to get control of the government’s huge deficits, agreed last year on a budget deal that could cut projected defense spending by more than $1 trillion over the next decade.

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