By Melanie Batley
One of the nation’s biggest defense contractors is launching a lobbying campaign this week to save a fleet of armored vehicles from getting the ax due to military spending cuts.
BAE Systems and dozens of its suppliers are pressing lawmakers to allow a Pennsylvania plant to continue producing Bradley fighting vehicles, even though production is slated to be put on hold by the Pentagon for three years, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
“Every single piece of equipment affected by the drawdown will see some sort of street fight to keep the production lines open,” said Gordon Adams, a former White House budget official and now an international relations professor at American University. “This is a classic service-contractor duel.”
BAE is worried that the government will ultimately retire the production of the armored vehicles, as the Army cuts the size of its force in the coming years from 562,000 personnel to 490,000. The move would lead to heavy layoffs and hit hundreds of suppliers throughout the United States.
“If we don’t find a way to mitigate the shutdown between now and midsummer, we are reaching … the line of no return,” said Mark Signorelli, BAE’s vice president of vehicle systems.
The company has successfully averted earlier attempts by the Army to cut back on the Bradley line by convincing Congress to override Pentagon spending decisions. This time, they still have some support.
“I realize that we have to come up with savings and make difficult decisions about defense, but I think in this case there are other places to find savings,” said Tennessee GOP Sen. Bob Corker.
Bradley vehicles cost $3.1 million each and were widely used during the first Gulf War in Iraq. Since then, they have fallen out of favor because hidden bombs or IEDs, which damage the vehicles, have increasingly figured in military conflicts.