F-22 Raptor  (Source: Lockheed Martin)
The Pentagon is ready to end two major programs that will likely cause job cuts among several private contractors

Defense Secretary Robert Gates shook up the private defense sector at the start of the week by announcing that the Pentagon plans to end F-22 fighter jet production and cancel the Lockheed Martin VH-71 helicopter program in the near future.  The loss of both the fighter jet and helicopter will likely put thousands of Americans out of work while the U.S. military refocuses on a new type of war.

"This is a reform budget, reflecting lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet also addressing the range of other potential threats around the world, now and in the future," Gates said during a media briefing at the Pentagon.

There will be 187 F-22 fighter jets that need to be delivered or are currently being manufactured, but there won't be any more orders placed by the Pentagon, Gates said.  Each F-22 costs $140 million to manufacture.

The announcement on Monday was described as an "unorthodox approach" because Gates' news conference took place before the annual White House budget proposal to Congress.  The announcement initially led to concern over job cuts at Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and smaller partner companies who help fund research and development.

The end of F-22 production will allow the government to shift focus to the smaller, more versatile Lockheed F-35.  There are currently 38,000 people working on the F-35's development, but that number is expected to top 80,000 in 2011.  However, Lockheed said there could be almost 100,000 jobs at risk in California, Georgia, Connecticut, and Texas if the government doesn't order more F-22 jets.  

The U.S. government is looking to transition its military force to be able to fight unconventional battles, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, rather than focus on countries like China or Russia, military analysts said.

Furthermore, there have been several high-profile incidents with the F-22 over the years, with a test pilot dying several weeks ago due to an unspecified problem.

Senators from Connecticut and Georgia are disappointed with Gates' decision, and are attempting to find ways to not lose thousands of manufacturing jobs that are now at risk.  Unless Congress places more orders, however, it’s unlikely layoffs can be avoided.

Companies involved in F-22 development have spent the past several months lobbying against government-led discussions regarding ending the fighter jet's development, though it "was not a close call," according to Gates.  

In addition to the F-22, the Pentagon also decided to eliminate the costly VH-71 helicopter project, which costs more than Air Force One -- a modified Boeing 747 -- to develop.  

Lockheed has the most to lose from this announcement, with military analysts curious to see how the company deals with the loss of two major military programs.  It appears Gates' decision is final, and Lockheed must now try and adapt to the pending loss that will take place after the final 187 F-22s are shipped out.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard
Related Articles

Latest Blog Posts
The Best Android Apps
Saimin Nidarson - May 20, 2017, 6:16 AM

Copyright 2017 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki