Lockheed relocating 560 jobs from Georgia to Fort Worth [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]By Yamil Berard, Fort Worth Star-TelegramMcClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Dec. 04--Hundreds of Georgia-based Lockheed Martin employees who worked on the most advanced stealth fighter jet in the nation's arsenal are having their jobs relocated to Fort Worth.
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, which made the F-22 Raptor, expects to move about 560 salaried jobs from Marietta, Ga., to the division's headquarters in Texas.
"Now we are at a stage of supporting the aircraft that are in the field and looking at opportunities to make improvements in the aircraft," Lockheed spokesman Joe Stout said.
The Pentagon several years ago signaled the end of the $66 billion program to make way for production of Lockheed Martin's multiservice F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. In May 2012, the final F-22 Raptor was delivered to the U.S. Air Force.
About 195 of the aircraft were produced, including eight test aircraft, Stout said. Each aircraft cost $147 million to produce, he said.
But even though the program has ended, Lockheed isn't about to abandon its business on the supersonic diamond-shaped jet, Stout said.
"Those F-22s are going to be in operation for 20 to 25 years and, during that time, they're going to need a lot of support," Stout said. "There's going to be improvements made in them.
"Electronic technology is going to change," he said. "There might be an opportunity to replace this box or this gadget on the F-22 with something faster and better."
Marietta employees affected by the announcement include engineers, schedulers and persons in administrative positions.
Hourly production employees are not affected, Stout said.
The F-22 Raptor was assembled at Lockheed's Marietta plant, but one-third of the construction, including the aircraft's center fuselage, was completed in Fort Worth. Lockheed has about 14,200 employees in Fort Worth.
Marietta employees will be offered a relocation package and must decide by Jan. 7 whether to move. If they choose to stay in Goergia, Lockheed will determine whether they will be able to fill other positions or be laid off, Stout said.
The relocation effort is likely to save the company millions of dollars, he said.
"We started about two years ago to look at ways that we can do things more efficiency and more affordably," he said. "We felt consolidating our fighter aircraft here in Fort Worth was an opportunity to increase efficiency."
The consolidation is expected to be completed by March.
Yamil Berard, 817-390-7705
(c)2012 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
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