Key changes to the defense budget could mean yet more job losses in Connecticut.
When Defense Secretary Robert Gates outlined the Obama Administration’s priorities for military hardware, he included the cancellation of one key program.
"We will end production of the F22 fighter at 187, representing 183 planes in the current program, plus four recommended for inclusion in the FY2009 supplemental."
Engines for the F22 are made by Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut, and Louis Chenevert, CEO of parent company UTC said earlier this year that the end of the program could mean the loss of up to 3,000 jobs in the state, taking into account Pratt’s supplier companies. Gates also announced a more than $4b dollar increase in funding for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, for which Pratt also makes engines, but it’s unlikely that would make up the shortfall in work in the short term. Defense expert Dr Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute says there is some good news in this budget for Connecticut.
"Pratt & Whitney is going to be hurt significantly by cuts to the F-22 fighter and the C-17 cargo plane. On the other hand, in the case of Sikorsky, it appears as though the Secretary is making a commitment to buying a lot more helicopters over the long run."
Gates also announced he’s formally ending the replacement of Marine One, the Presidential helicopter fleet, a contract which Sikorsky lost – that change will mean more maintenance work for the company on the current fleet – a small, but high profile piece of work.