“More than 95,000 American jobs” depend on continued production of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighter, according to the apparently industry-funded advocacy group Preserve Raptor Jobs.
In this age of credit freezes and layoffs, that’s a compelling reason to continue buying the $140-million jets. Consider it “economic stimulus,” no?
Problem is, that 95,000 number counts indirect employment at firms for whom the F-22 program is just one of many clients. And it also counts Lockheed assembly workers who are in high demand for other aviation projects. In fact, ending Raptor production today might not result in a single unemployed aerospace worker.
“As far as the facility here in Meridian is concerned, there are only about 20 workers devoted to the manufacturing of the tail assembly on the Raptor,” [plant manager Joe] Mercado added. “That is out of a total work force of almost 200 people. I don’t mean to lessen the importance their jobs mean to the families of those 20 people. It is very possible we could transition those workers to the C-130 product line, which is the major contract we have. But would the loss of the Raptor contract cripple us here in Meridian? No.”
It’s the same across the U.S. aerospace industry. A year ago the industry was worried about huge labor shortages. Shutting down the Raptor line would see thousands of workers snapped up for active production lines churning out F-16s, F-35s, C-130s and modernized C-5s for Lockheed, not to mention the prospect that industry rivals Boeing and Northrop might lure Lockheed workers for their own active production lines for the F-15, F/A-18 and others.
Even in the New Depression, the U.S. has the world’s biggest and most diverse aerospace industry. Trimming a few dozen aircraft from one production line, and shuttering that line a few years early, will not put nearly 100,000 people out of work.
There are good reasons to keep buying F-22s, but jobs is not one of them.
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