Marietta Daily Journal: Barry Loudermilk, David Scott urge Pentagon to sign multi-year deal for C-130s

Members of Congress are asking the Department of Defense to sign a new long-term contract with Lockheed Martin for more than a hundred new C-130 aircraft, all of which would be built at the company’s Marietta plant.

U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, was one of the signatories of a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis last week encouraging the Pentagon to sign a five-year deal with Lockheed, which would run from fiscal 2019 to 2023.

“We’re trying to make sure that we can increase defense spending, but at the same time, trying to find all the cost savings that we can find,” Loudermilk said. “And this is a perfect fit because basically with a multi-year contract instead of just an annual contract, we save about 12 to 17 per aircraft because Lockheed can build them less expensively because they can plan, it’s easier to schedule out as well as buying the parts in bulk saves money.”

Loudermilk noted that the Department of Defense has need for more than 100 aircraft, all of which could be included in a new five-year deal. He said he hasn’t heard back from the Pentagon, but he knows Mattis has the letter from Congress.

“I assume that they’re going to be supportive of it, but we’ll wait until we hear directly from the Pentagon,” Loudermilk said, adding that he wants to get the deal in place before Congress is scheduled to pass a defense spending bill, which is expected to take place before the August recess.

The letter was signed by 61 members of Congress from both parties, including Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, whose district includes south Cobb, Austell and Powder Springs.

“The C-130 is the backbone of our military and our nation’s defense and helps us in terms of keeping our allies strong,” Scott said. “It is one of the most valuable piece of equipment that we produce in our arsenal for defense.”

Scott said the goal of the letter was to stress how serious Congress feels about the program and its importance.

“What we want to do in the letter is to just really stress to the Trump administration and to Gen. Mattis how important it is to maintain the request for these 100 C-130Js,” he said. “And we wanted, in the letter, to explain how important and what this means to our own defense stature.”

Scott said he has a personal connection to Lockheed: just after graduating from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania in 1969, his first job was with Lockheed.

“So I have that familiarity and I have that, certainly, affection for Lockheed, but I also know how critical this is to the economic welfare of Marietta, of Georgia and this nation,” Scott said.

The C-130 program supports 32,000 jobs and 570 suppliers across 41 states, according to the letter sent to the Pentagon. This includes many of the 5,000 employees at Lockheed’s Marietta plant, which has produced more than 2,500 C-130s since production first began in the 1950s.

Published: Sunday, June 25, 2017
By: Ricky Leroux, Reporter, Marietta Daily Journal
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