TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Things are looking good for Raytheon in the new defense budget.
Congress and the President still have to formally approve the spending plan but it includes money to keep the Tomahawk missile in production, keep other Raytheon programs active and create more jobs to fill.
Congresswoman Martha McSally spoke to Raytheon workers Thursday afternoon.
Raytheon's missile business is Tucson's largest private employer.
Congresswoman Martha McSally spoke to some of those workers Thursday. Part of her speech described how she helped solve a problem that stopped production of Raytheon's AMRAAM air to air and anti aircraft missile for a year.
Raytheon says a contractor was supplying AMRAAM solid rocket motors so unreliable they were unsafe. Raytheon switched to motors from a company in Norway. McSally convinced Congress to kill an amendment that would have forced Raytheon to certify another company as able to supply the engines. That allowed Raytheon to continue producing AMRAAMs without delay.
The company says the proposed budget calls about 200 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles. McSally says that's twice as many as the President called for.
"...Which is really important for local jobs here in Southern Arizona and so we wanted to make sure we protected not only the important missiles for the war fighters, as I mentioned but also the certainty and the jobs."
Part of the problem with cutting down Tomahawk production is if they stop the assembly line, there's the risk the companies that make the different pieces that go into the missile would go off and start doing some other sort of business and not be available if they wanted to start production again.
The proposed budget also pays for other Raytheon programs like the Standard Missile Three designed to knock down other missiles.
Raytheon Missile President Taylor Lawrence hopes the budget will pass. He says after Congress lifted the previous budget impasse business improved and allowed Raytheon to create about five hundred jobs.
“We're looking for all kinds of engineers, mathematicians, the classic STEM, science, technology, engineering and math. Those are the biggest skills we require."
And Lawrence says Raytheon has had good results finding graduates from U of A and other Arizona Universities able to fill those jobs.