Westinghouse Electric Corp. has eliminated about 1,000 jobs in Maryland over the past three years, but the company's top management said yesterday that employment is expected to remain stable here for the next five years despite signs of a recession and an anticipated reduction in defense spending.
The outlook for the company's Electronic Systems Group, based near Baltimore/Washington International Airport, is "quite good," Paul E. Lego, Westinghouse's chairman and chief executive, said during a visit to Baltimore.
He said the work force reduction of recent years was the result of attrition and predicted a rosy future for the Maryland defense operations as they move increasingly into commercial markets.
Richard L. Linder, president of the Electronic Systems Group, noted that with 16,000 workers, Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse is still the state's largest private manufacturing employer.
Pointing out that the group is involved in more than 20 major
programs with a potential value of more than $1 billion during the 1990s, Mr. Linder said he expects employment to remain "fairly flat and stable."
The Maryland operation posted sales of nearly $3 billion last year and has a backlog of nearly $5 billion of business on its books, up from $4.7 billion the previous year.
Its big-ticket programs include the production of fire-control radar units for F-16 fighter planes, AWACS radar and the radar to be used on the A-12, a Navy attack plane. Mr. Linder said the company has also been picked to supply the radar by the manufacturers competing to produce the next generation of fighter plane for the Air Force.
That plane is still in the development stage. Mr. Linder called the A-12 an "extremely important" "multibillion program" for Westinghouse.
He said it is going through some restructuring at this time, but expressed confidence that the A-12 program will proceed despite a shrinking defense budget.
He said another "extremely important" program, the Advanced Tactical Fighter, might be delayed but should eventually reach production. One of the group's newest contracts is for the development and production of electronic jamming units designed to protect front-line fighter planes, including the F-16, F-14 and F-18.
The electronic gear is designed to protect the planes from attack by aircraft and missiles by jamming enemy radar signals.
During a meeting with reporters, Mr. Lego revealed that Westinghouse also is looking at the potential for new acquisitions or the establishment of international alliances to strengthen its defense operations and other lines of business.
Along those lines, he disclosed that the company had put together a financial package to purchase parts of Ford Aerospace Co. but lost out to Loral Corp. of New York.
The company's long-term plan is to lessen its Electronic Systems Group's dependence on military contracts.
The goal is to increase its commercial sales from the current 29 percent of its business to 50 percent by 1995.
Current commercial contracts include the production of air traffic control radar units. Last year, about 23 percent of its business was from commercial contracts.
Mr. Lego was in Baltimore yesterday as co-chairman of a national management symposium sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
He told the approximately 1,000 people attending the three-day event at the Convention Center that U.S. industry has to increase the quality of its products to remain competitive in the global market.
"When you get right down to it, total quality management is a matter or life or death," Mr. Lego said in his speech.