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Boeing Takes Over GKN Plant to Support F/A-18, F-15 Programs

The aerospace giant also brought along some 550 workers.

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On Friday, Boeing finalized a deal with Melrose Industries to take over GKN Aerospace's manufacturing operations in St. Louis, Missouri. GKN is a subsidiary of the British aerospace manufacturer. A large portion of the staff, some 550 people, have been hired by Boeing.

Boeing plans to continue making critical components at the site to support the U.S. government and its allies. The agreement immediately transitions operations to Boeing, which will continue to make parts for the F/A-18 and F-15 programs.

In 2001, GKN Aerospace bought the site from Boeing. According to GKN, the St. Louis plant has been exclusively making aerostructures for Boeing in recent months, which led, in part, to acquisition talks that began last year over a potential deal that would see the site return to its original owner.

GKN had announced plans to close the factory and lay off some 700 people – GKN and Melrose said the site was "unsustainable."

Boeing sued, saying GKN was the only supplier capable of making "superplastics" and "flight-control surfaces" vital to its F/A-18 and F-15 fighter jet production. Boeing claimed that the plant's closure would breach GKN's agreements to supply critical parts for the fighter jets, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

It was a high-stakes deal for Boeing, especially as the Biden Administration hopes to land an $18 billion contract with Israel for some 50 F-15 jets. 

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"The sale secures the future of the facility for the employees and we wish everyone at St. Louis very well for the future," a GKN spokesperson said in a statement. 

According to Steve Parker, Senior VP and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, Boeing has a "healthy backlog" of current programs and is looking for new opportunities. Parker says the agreement allows the GKN workforce to use their talents to support the St. Louis defense and aerospace industry. "This is a win-win-win for those employees, Boeing and the broader St. Louis community," Parker adds.

Financial details of the transaction will not be disclosed.

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