WICHITA, KS — Aerospace structures manufacturer Spirit Aerosystems announced the allocation of $80 million in federal funding to bolster its production for the defense sector.

Kansas-based Spirit, a major Boeing supplier, was significantly impacted by both Boeing's issues with the 737 Max aircraft and the decline of commercial air travel amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Defense Department funding, provided under the Defense Production Act and authorized by federal COVID-19 relief legislation, would help Spirit retain its skilled workforce, company officials said.

“Our growing work on defense programs has provided a measure of stability for the company, and helped us as we shift capacity to serve other needs, particularly in the defense market,” says Duane Hawkins, the president of Spirit's defense and fabrication division.

Spirit said the funds would be used to build tooling, fabricate composite parts, and machine complex metallic parts at its flagship facility in Wichita, which focuses on “large, complex, soft metal parts for fuselage, pylon and wing structures.”

Pentagon officials said the funding would both ensure a critical workforce is maintained and strengthen the domestic supply chain of aircraft articles.