A much-touted deal in which Raytheon would open a plant in Meridian to build trainer jets, and employ 450 people, has collapsed.

Raytheon and and Italy’s Leonardo-Finmeccanica group announced Wednesday that they were “unable to reach a business agreement that is in the best interest of the U.S. Air Force.” The companies’ T-100 jets would have replaced the Air Force’s legacy T-38 Talon trainers.

Raytheon said in October that it would assemble the jets near Meridian Regional Airport if the Air Force chose the twin-engine fighter trainer.

In December, Raytheon held a red-carpet “inauguration” ceremony at Key Brothers Hangar at the Meridian airport, according to the Meridian Star.

Speakers that day included Raytheon President of Space and Airborne Systems Rick Yuse, Gov. Phil Bryant, Sen. Roger Wicker, U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper and Sen. Thad Cochran’s Chief of Staff Brad White. State Sen. President Pro Tem Terry Burton welcomed those in attendance and Speaker Pro Tem of the State House of Representatives Greg Snowden led the Pledge of Allegiance.

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