If the Air Force's B-2 bomber is shot down by Congress, at least three Maryland companies will lose some business, but the economic impact on the state would be minimal.
The future of the military's $65 billion "stealth" bomber program was left up in the air last week when House and Senate budget negotiators declined to authorize production of any more planes than the 15 under construction.
The Air Force and the prime contractor, Northrop Corp., still hope to produce at least 75 of the radar-evading planes. The B-2 was designed for bombing missions over the Soviet Union, but the sweeping changes in that country have undercut support for the project.
As with most major defense programs, Maryland companies have a piece of the B-2 action, but their involvement is more limited than it was with the Navy A-12 attack plane, which the Pentagon canceled earlier this year. Maryland defense contractors say they would not expect work force reductions if the B-2 is terminated.
Fairchild Space and Defense Corp. in Germantown produces an electronic memory device used to store navigation and communication data and make it available to the crew when needed.
EG&G Pressure Science Co. in Beltsville produces flanges and seals used in ducts in the B-2 cockpit.
AAI Corp. in Cockeysville has produced three lifting trailers for Northrop that are to be used to lift bombs into the B-2's payload bay. These were test models to demonstrate that they worked properly. William H. Herrfeldt, an AAI spokesman, says the company is in a good position to land a new trailer contract if
more B-2s are produced.
When the Pentagon canceled the A-12 program, Westinghouse Electric Corp. eliminated 1,200 jobs at its Defense Electronic Systems Group operation in the state. The Amecom division of Litton Systems Inc. in College Park laid off about 200 workers.