Bombardier Names Wichita New U.S. Headquarters with Focus on Defense Work

April 20, 2022

Apr. 19—Bombardier has named Wichita its official U.S. headquarters.

Wichita will be home to the Canadian-owned aerospace manufacturer's Bombardier Defense division, and officials say they're currently hiring for 180 Wichita positions.

Learjet, based in Wichita, has been a Bombardier subsidiary since 1990. The Tuesday announcement came less than a month after the final Learjet 75 rolled out of its Wichita hangar.

"We're opening a new chapter of partnership and growth, solidifying Kansas' reputation as the Air Capital of the World," Gov. Laura Kelly said at a Bombardier event on Learjet's campus.

Tonya Sudduth, former vice president of operations in Wichita who has been named Bombardier's head of U.S. strategy, said the company is actively recruiting for 500 open positions in the U.S. One hundred eighty of those technician and administrative jobs will be based in Wichita.

Bombardier's 1,100 Wichita employees account for roughly a fourth of the company's U.S. workforce.

Bombardier CEO Éric Martel said the decision to base the company's U.S. headquarters in Wichita was a logical one.

"This is where we have more capabilities. We need to identify it as the U.S. headquarters for Bombardier," Martel said. "At the same time, our defense business has a lot of potential to grow over the years, so we wanted to make it also official because most of the work's going to happen here."

Bombardier also announced details of a military partnership to modify business jets for the U.S. Air Force.

Bombardier Defense "confirmed additional firm orders for modified versions of its Global 6000 aircraft, as part of a potential $465 million USD order from the United States Air Force in support of the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) program," a news release said.

The high-altitude, long-endurance planes have been in service for 10 years. The planes will be serviced and upgraded in Wichita.

" Bombardier Defense will continue to leverage Wichita's highly reputable expertise to provide in-service support and upgrades to the USAF's expanding BACN fleet, underscoring Bombardier's status as a key U.S. aerospace employer," the release said.

The intersection of aviation and defense has become particularly important for Wichita's manufacturing giants in recent years.

Reeling from the twin crises of the Boeing 737 Max grounding and the COVID-19 pandemic, Spirit announced last year that they plan to expand their space and defense division from 20% to 40% of company revenue.

The U.S. military is financially backing efforts to design and create prototypes for hypersonic weapons through a partnership between Spirit and Wichita State's National Institute for Aviation Research. The effort is funded by a $5 million federal grant awarded when the Department of Defense named south Kansas a defense manufacturing community, one of 11 in the country.

This story was originally published April 19, 2022 2:30 PM.


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