U.S. Department of Defense awarded a $35 billion U.S. Air Force KC-X aerial refueling tanker contract to Boeing today.

“Today’s decision ends nearly a decade of delay and is a victory for our airmen and women who will no longer have to depend upon an Eisenhower-era tanker fleet,” Sen. Jerry Moran said. “Replacing our aging tanker fleet is essential to the security of our country and safety of our troops, and Kansas workers stand ready to build the next generation of refueling tankers for our military."

The  contract is a major boost to the company and to Boeing workers in the Puget Sound area and in Wichita, Kan., where the planes will be built. Officials say about 50,000 jobs are at stake.

The planes will be based on Boeing's 767 jetliner. Boeing had competed with the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, known as EADS, for the deal.

“Today’s announcement that The Boeing Company has won the KC-X Next Generation Tanker contract is tremendous news for our warfighters, taxpayers, and aviation workers of South Central Kansas," said Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita. “After a decade of effort, the Department has finally gotten this contract right.  We are long overdue to witness the start of tankers’ production at Spirit Aerosystems, their completion at Boeing-Wichita, and their subsequent movement across the runway to McConnell Air Force Base."

— The Associated Press contributed to this report