Lockheed CFO: We Won't Ask for More F-22s

Company says it's too soon to say how Pentagon's plans will affect Fort Worth jobs.

A Lockheed Martin executive Tuesday indicated the company has accepted the Pentagon's plan to cap production of the contractor's F-22 fighter jet.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has proposed that the Pentagon buy 187 of the planes, short of the 20 to 60 more that Lockheed and its supporters in Congress sought. The plan was endorsed last week by Air Force officials, who previously had pushed hard for the planes.

Lockheed had warned, in a media blitz, that capping the F-22 could lead to up to 25,000 job losses at the company and other suppliers.

Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief said earlier this month that the defense department's plan to end production of the F-22 would be a "body shot" to the city's economy.

About 2,000 people at the Fort Worth facility make parts for the F-22.

Lockheed Chief Financial Officer Bruce Tanner said in an investor call that the company has lobbied on the issue, but the Pentagon is "completely aligned on this matter from top to bottom."

He said the company was disappointed by the decision, but "we've had our hearing and will go forward," the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Tanner said Lockheed would not lead efforts for the government to buy more F-22 jets, the newspaper reported.

But other Lockheed programs would receive boosts, including plans to accelerate the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet and buy more warships that can sail in shallow waters.

Tanner said potential job losses at the company's Marietta, Ga., plant, where the F-22 is assembled and 2,000 workers are employed, could be reduced by shifting workers to other projects at the facility.

Some work on the F-35, now done mainly at Lockheed's Fort Worth factory, could also be shifted to Georgia. About 5,000 people currently work on the project in Fort Worth.

In a statement, Lockheed Martin said it was too soon to say how jobs at the Fort Worth plant would be affected.

"There are many options available as we assess the recommendations of the Secretary of Defense on F-22, but it would be premature to comment on any production changes since the decision process is ongoing with the U.S. government," the company said.

If Congress approves the Pentagon's plan, the Georgia plant's F-22 assembly line would turn out the last jet in 2012, Tanner said.

Lita Beck contributed to this report.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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