Boeing Contracts Demonstrate St. Louis’ Continued Strength for Aerospace Manufacturing

by William Liem and Tim Alexander | Oct 19, 2018

Greater St. Louis is a major hub for aerospace manufacturing, research, and development. Boeing Defense, Space, and Security is the largest regional manufacturer with over 13,000 area employees. In August and September 2018, Boeing won two major contracts that total $10 billion, further deepening their connection to Greater St. Louis.

In August, Boeing won a $805 million contract to develop four unmanned drones—the MQ-25A Stingray—which will be used to refuel fighter jets and extend their combat range for the U.S. Navy. These drones can travel 500 nautical miles to deliver 14,000 pounds of fuel (1), which is a technological breakthrough in U.S. Navy history. Approximately 45 percent of development will be done here in St. Louis according to the U.S. Department of Defense, and delivery is expected by 2024.(2) There is the potential for the Stingray program to grow into a $13 billion fleet of 72 drones if the first round of four drones prove satisfactory to the U.S. Navy.

Their next victory secured a $9.2 billion contract with the U.S. Air Force to produce the next generation of T-X training jets. The current plan calls for 351 T-X aircraft and 46 simulators, however, the award can cover up to 475 T-X jets and 120 simulators and associated ground equipment.(3)

The first five T-X aircraft and seven simulators will arrive at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, in 2023. Initial operating capability is planned to launch by the end of 2024, and full operational capability by 2034.This contract is expected to generate over 1,800 jobs throughout the Greater St. Louis region.(4)

As employers increasingly seek a skilled workforce, these contracts validate that St. Louis can compete and win in advanced manufacturing. St. Louis continues to be a world-class center for advanced design and manufacturing of fighter aircraft.


(1) "Navy Enters Drone Age, Taps Boeing for MQ-25" Breaking Defense, August 30, 2018
(2) "Boeing wins $805 million U.S. contract to build drones" St. Louis Business Journal, August 31, 2018
(3) "US Air Force awards $9B contract to Boeing for next training jet" Defense News, September 27, 2018
(4) "Boeing wins $9.2 billion Air Force training jet contract, will drive 1,800 local jobs" St. Louis Business Journal, September 27, 2018