The AJC is reporting tonight that the Defense Department plans to end the F-22 Raptor fighter jet program that employs 2,000 workers in Marietta. The move is part of one of the most sweeping makeovers of defense spending in recent history.
Yet the economic hit to the Atlanta area might not be as bad as initially expected. The Pentagon also announced Monday that it’s ramping up production of another jet, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, that is slated to be partly assembled in Cobb County.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) wasn’t mollified.
“It is unacceptable that this administration wants to eliminate 2,000 jobs in Marietta and potentially 95,000 jobs nationwide at a time when unemployment rates are rising across the country,” he said.
The Pentagon has contracted to buy 183 F-22s built by the Lockheed Martin Corp. More than 140 have been built.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recommended Monday that money authorized in a fiscal 2009 supplemental budget request for four additional F-22s go forward, bringing the total to 187. If approved, the Marietta assembly line would remain running until late 2011.
Each F-22 costs a minimum of $150 million, but adding in research and development expenses over 20 years can more than double the price.
Despite the defense secretary’s budgetary wishes, Bob Shaw isn’t convinced the F-22 is history in Marietta.