Nov 20 2006

Ala. lawmakers urge DoD to keep lockheed missile program

Market Watch

Alabama lawmakers are urging the Defense Department to keep a Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) missile program alive, instead of canceling it or holding a new competition, according to a letter obtained Thursday by Dow Jones Newswires.

Sen. Richard Shelby, Sen. Jeff Sessions, Rep. Terry Everett and Rep. Bud Cramer, wrote in support of the Joint Common Missile program. Cramer is a Democrat; the other legislators are Republicans.

The Joint Common Missile was once a $2.4 billion Army-Navy initiative, but it has been on life support since December 2004, when the Pentagon proposed termination. The Defense Department only recently approved release of about $60 million in 2006 and 2007 funding.

The lawmakers said the Pentagon should stick with the existing program, rather than start fresh. Lockheed Martin's missiles and fire control unit has a factory in Troy, Ala., among other facilities.

"Recent reports indicate that the Department is considering recompeting the program, even though the program continues to support the needs of the warfighter and remains on budget," the lawmakers said, in a Nov. 14 letter to Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England.

"The JCM is a viable and executable program that Congress clearly believes should remain intact," the lawmakers said.

The Pentagon currently considers the Joint Common Missile a terminated program, even though it still receives some funding. The Defense Department says the requirement for the weapon still exists, but it has not decided whether to proceed.

On Wednesday, Army budget planner Lt. Gen. Jerry Sinn said he expected the Army, the Navy and the Defense Department would support the missile program in next year's budget.

Lockheed Martin welcomed the support from lawmakers. In a statement, the company said the missile remains on schedule for now.