F-22 Finale — Transfers mark demise of fighter program at plant
December 09, 2012 12:00 AM | 5956 views | 12 12 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THE FINAL F-22 RAPTOR flew away in May from the Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta where it and its predecessors had been assembled. Now, many of those who helped design and assemble them are about to leave as well.

Lockheed Martin announced last week that most of the remaining F-22 jobs at the plant will be transferred to its plant in Fort Worth, Texas, and notified 560 of its 6,900 Marietta employees that they must make up their minds by Jan. 7 about whether to relocate. The positions being shifted are all salaried, non-production jobs, most of them in engineering.

The company will save about $250 million over the coming five years by consolidating its operations in Fort Worth. But looking at another way, that’s close to 500 high-skill, high-paying jobs being yanked out of the Cobb economy.

The news was announced in person to affected employees on Monday by Jeff Babione, vice president of the F-16/F-22 Integrated Fighter Group.

“The economic realities of today’s defense business climate require us to drive down costs in order to deliver on our commitments to the war fighter and remain competitive for the future,” Babione said in a statement. “Operating from a centralized location will improve our overall affordability, streamline operations, foster an environment of greater collaboration and ultimately enhance the level of support we provide our customers.”

It makes for a melancholy holiday, not just for them but also for those who had originally hoped to see F-22s continue rolling out of the plant for years.

The F-22 is the most capable fighter ever built. The Air Force originally expected to buy at least 650 F-22s back when the contract was awarded in 1991. But the Cold War had ended by the time the first F-22 flew in Marietta in 1997 and the plane’s high cost made it an easy target for congressional budget-cutters. It is an “air dominance” fighter designed to sweep enemy aircraft from the skies and was not used in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Obama administration finally pulled the plug on the program after just 195 were built. Meanwhile, the Russians and Chinese now have built fighters that look nearly identical to the F-22 and are believed to fly — and fight — nearly as well. They’ve caught up, in other words, and may soon surpass us. Sadly, our fondness for cheap Chinese consumer goods and the huge trade imbalance that has resulted means that we are providing that country with the financial resources to both out-engineer us and out-build us, should it choose to do so. We are being taxed to support our military and are voluntarily subsidizing China’s.


WE WILL REGRET to see so many loyal Lockheed plant workers heading to Texas, and have long lamented the demise of the F-22 program.

Even more unsettling is that those changes could be just a foretaste of what’s just around the corner, thanks to looming congressional sequestration and the deep cuts in defense that many Washington Democrats are known to favor.

The F-22 commands the skies, but it cannot command Congress and the White House — and that, ironically, turns out to have been its downfall.

Comments
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Mike F.
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December 12, 2012
MDJ editorial fanning the fires of xenophobia. China has never attacked another country, don't bring them into the debate. LM is simply cutting costs, and rationalizing its business.
FROM TEXAS
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December 14, 2012
The Russians and Chinese are attacking us every day it’s called the internet they steal technology every day. They make knockoff stuff everyday you’re paying for that as well, if you have a factory over in China they start the factory up and make black market. Keep drinking that Obama Power-Aid drink hope they don’t make it in China you might die like your dog did from the treats from China. When the Chinese take over and make you wear a target while they shoot you hope the target is made in China that’s common part ice in China.
Kevin Foley
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December 10, 2012
From July 17, 2009 Washington Post:

For (GOP Defense Secrtary William) Gates, the Lockheed Martin F-22, which has been in development for almost three decades, has become a potent symbol of why the Pentagon needs to change the way it prepares for future wars. The high-tech aircraft was designed to counter Soviet jets in the waning days of the Cold War. Today, no U.S. adversaries have a plane in development that can match it or the F-35, which the Pentagon plans to deploy over the next decade.

China will not be able to field a similar plane until about 2025, when the United States will have more than 1,700 F-35s, Gates said.

The defense secretary warned that any effort to add planes to the budget would rob dollars from more pressing weapons programs that are needed for the conflict in Afghanistan or for battles with future adversaries unlikely to challenge the United States in a major conventional war. He singled out the threat posed by extremist groups such as Lebanon's Hezbollah, which "currently has more rockets and high-end munitions -- many quite sophisticated and accurate -- than all but a handful of countries."

Obammy
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December 10, 2012
Err, Foley, those are union jobs going south, sort of contrary to your radical liberal progressive ideology, isn't it? You know how you folks embrace union thugs.
Foley Pontificates
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December 10, 2012
Foley, you get your military information from the same source that your messiah Obama gets his, somewhere in liberal left la-la land.
Timus
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December 09, 2012
No what's ironic is that the military contractors have been overcharging taxpayers since the Reagan years(remember the $50,000 crescent wrench?) and maybe even before that. But it took a Democrat in the White House to end the outrageous over-billing from Lockheed. I wondered when someone would have enough common sense to stand up and say overcharging the taxpayer by $100 million per plane was outrageous. The Washington Post estimates that number to be closer to $300 million dollars. Three planes would cost the US a billion dollars!!! Unreal. No wonder we have so much debt!! And it cost $44,000 per hour to operate just one. Who thought this was a good idea???????
George Middleton
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December 11, 2012
The "$50,000 crescent wrench" never did exist. If would do some research you would understand how that lie came to be part of the liberal chicken hawk's propagnda library.
Oh the irony...
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December 09, 2012
I truly do sympathize with the individuals impacted here...on the other hand, they've at least been offered the opportunity to move from one radical right wing community to another even more radical right wing community to...yes, get this, to continue their employment in this radical right wing community on the government-funded food chain of the defense industry, to prepare for a fight that only exists in the minds of clever defense industry propagandists, most of which are funded by "small government" right wingers.

Seriously, these "great jobs" were perched on top of a house of cards teetering atop a mythical phantom of fear. These talented people would be better off finding work in a legitimately real world, market-driven line of work.
Watcher...
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December 09, 2012
to "Oh the Irony"

You must not have paid attention Friday as America remembered Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.

Your comment about mythical fear was interesting, thought not correct. It sounds like you may be a member of the left wing Progressive movement. Some day you might appreciate Lockheed products.

We must always be vigilant! We must always be prepared. The Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans and others are sharpening their knives as we have this discussion.
Julie Smart
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December 09, 2012
These people are a part of this community too. LM was part of the "food chain" that kept others going in this area to. Such as shopping, restaurants, taxes, etc. With your high and mighty attitude, these people will likely lose their homes if they don't move or risk moving and then being laid off anyway. As bad as it gets, these families will have to apply for entitlements to be able to live and expect the government to keep them up. Man that is looking better everyday you hate mongers.......See you in line buddy....

Birdsbrain
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December 10, 2012
Hi, has anyone thought to maybe stop dramatizing this and get to using those great minds and their great abilities to solve their problems,and maybe a few of ours. Hey come on now, these people can build a F-22! What else might they able to do? You people should stop whining and dramatizing! Solve problems, don't create them!
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