Westinghouse work will save 500 jobs Local division is awarded 3 contracts

September 24, 1993|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Staff Writer

The local Westinghouse division has been awarded three contracts worth more than $250 million that the company says will preserve about 500 jobs at its Linthicum complex.

Work on the Air Force contracts, which involve the production of radar units for the F-16 Falcon fighter plane, will span the next four years, Rep. Helen Delich Bentley said yesterday in announcing the awards.

"It's a big contract," said Ann E. Grizzel, a Westinghouse spokeswoman. "And it's going to help us save a lot of jobs. That's the bottom line."

The new contracts are an important boost for the local plant. Because of declining military business, Westinghouse has eliminated about 7,000 jobs in Maryland since 1991 through layoffs and attrition.

Counting spare units and those made for use in other planes, Westinghouse estimates that it has produced about 5,000 radar units.

The F-16 program, the Electronic Systems Group's largest contract over the past 15 years, has accounted for more than $5 billion in revenue since the aircraft was created in 1972. During peak production in the 1980s, the jobs of about 1,000 workers at the Linthicum complex, adjacent to Baltimore-Washington International Airport, were related to the F-16 program.

Employment associated with the F-16 dropped to about 300 in 1991 after orders dropped but has been rising in recent years thanks to sales overseas. Westinghouse said about 500 workers are now involved in F-16 radar production.

The largest of the three new contracts, worth $192 million, is for the production of 184 radar units, Ms. Grizzel said.

The contract calls for 120 of the radars to be installed on planes being bought by South Korea. An additional 40 units are for planes built by Lockheed Corp. at its factory in Turkey, which produces planes for Turkey's air force. The U.S. Air Force was to receive the remaining 24.

Ms. Grizzel said a second contract worth $30.9 million was to upgrade 176 older radars in use on planes owned by the Turkish air force. The retrofitting involves the installation of hardware and software.

The third award, worth $29.6 million, is to be used for the construction of an F-16 maintenance center. It was not known for sure yesterday where the new center would be, but Ms. Grizzel said she believed it would be in Turkey.

She described the center as a "service station" where testing and repairs could be made on F-16 radar units and other electronic equipment in the planes. Ms. Grizzel said Westinghouse has built such repair shops throughout the world. Much of the cost, she said, is for the purchase of electronic testing equipment.

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