Gates Recommends Dropping F-22

By: ABC News
By: ABC News

The future of the Lockheed-built F-22 Raptor jet fighter is in doubt, along with the planned fleet of Lockheed presidential helicopters.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is recommending both be dropped from the Pentagon budget.

The contract to provide 23 helicopters to support the president is six years behind schedule.

Another program that is among the deep defense department cuts is the F-22 fighter jet, priced at $140 million each. Lockheed Martin, which makes the F-22, has argued at least 24,000 could be affected.

Rob Fuller, a Lockheed spokesman, said Tuesday that about 20 people support the F-22 in Meridian at the Sonny Montgomery Industrial Park, where the vertical stabilizers are produced. Vertical stabilizers are on the tail of the plane.

Fuller said the company is "assessing the impact" of Gates' proposal.

Gates said some of those job cuts will be offset by an increase in spending on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, expected to create another 35,000 positions.

Members of Congress are also worried that as programs disappear, so will jobs in their states. Five senators including Republicans and Democrats sent a letter to President Obama Monday, urging him not to allow proposed cuts to missile defense systems.

"A lot of these decisions will be controversial," said Gates. "My hope is that as we have tried to here in this building that the members of Congress will rise above parochial interests and consider what is in the best interest of the nation as a whole."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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