Tom York of the Sancho Bernando Patch writes:-
Defense contactor Northrop Grumman, which employs more than 4,800 employees in the county, including 2,400 in Rancho Bernardo, is making headlines.
The large public company placed big display ads in five newspapers, including The San Diego Union-Tribune, over the weekend seeking the public’s help in supporting the Global Hawk pilotless surveillance aircraft and its construction program.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates is seeking to cut $100 billion from the defense budget over the next five years, which would have a huge impact on the unmanned aerial vehicle designed and largely built in San Diego, especially Rancho Bernardo.
About 1,200 of the company’s workers in Rancho Bernardo are involved in the program, said Jim Stratford, a spokesman for the company.
The display ad asks civilians and other interested parties to e-mail their support of the program to their representatives in Congress. The ad ran in papers where Northrop Grumman has operations: San Diego; Palmdale, CA; Salt Lake City, Utah; Grand Forks, ND; and Morgantown, WV, Stratford said.
It’s very unusual for contractors to reach out to the public directly.
Stratford said Northrop Grumman is currently building 40 aircraft, and has plans to build another 140, if defense funding is not cut. But construction of the 140 craft will depend on whether or not Congress funds the program. The Air Force and the Navy are the biggest purchasers of the vehicles.
He didn’t know what the effect on jobs would be if the program were cut back. “We can very easily move people to different programs, and we could absorb most of the workers seamlessly unless the cuts are significant,” Stratford said.
Northrop Grumman’s product is one of two used by the military for various purposes.
Poway-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems builds the unmanned Predator, another surveillance craft which receives government funding.
Debra Rosen, president of the San Diego North Chamber of Commerce, said the impact of reduced funding could “be huge.”
“If you’re not working, you’re not spending money,” Rosen said. “Northrop Grumman employees live here, they work here and they spend here, so any layoffs would impact the local economy.”
The website for the program said the Global Hawk project generates contracts for more than two dozen suppliers in the county.
What effect do you think cutbacks would have on the Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk program? Are you worried about losing your job? Tell us in the comments.