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Lockheed To Lay Off 600 With Cancellation Of VH-71

Most Cuts At Electronics Plant In Owego, NY

Lockheed Martin says cancellation of the beleaguered VH-71 program will cost the company 600 jobs at its facility in Owego, NY. The original $6.5 billion contract had ballooned to over $13 million, and the program was 6 years behind schedule, partly due to changes in the aircraft's specs. The Navy said the contract had been cancelled " “for the convenience of the government,” not contractor “default.”

A Lockheed spokesman told Bloomberg News the job cuts were announced Tuesday at the Owego facility. Troy Scully said it would amount to a 25 percent reduction in the total number of workers at the plant to about 3,000 by the end of this year, down from 4,000 in January.  Scully said it would be the last round of cuts in connection with the planned Presidential helicopter.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) represents the district that includes the Owego plant. He is asking the Pentagon to continue the VH-71 program because he says it would cost up to $21 billion to start from scratch, more than he estimates it would cost for Lockheed to finish the project. He said he will attempt to secure funding for the program in the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill.

"By continuing Lockheed Martin’s development of a new presidential helicopter, we can deliver a modern and secure helicopter fleet to the White House in a timely fashion without wasting taxpayer money,” Hinchey said in the e-mail distributed by his spokesman, Jeff Lieberson.

FMI: www.lockheedmartin.com

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