Casey wants BAE Bradley work spared from defense cuts

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat representing Pennsylvania, along with several Republican colleagues today urged the Senate Armed Services Committee not to cut production of the Bradley Fighting Vehicles made by BAE Systems in their states, including in York County.

The 2013 federal budget could put Bradley production on a three-year hiatus, but the senators warned such a stop and restart would be damaging to high-skill manufacturing jobs and cost more in the long run, according to a statement from Casey‘s office.

“As we work to cut costs and reduce the deficit, we can’t make shortsighted cuts that will cost taxpayers more in the long run or compromise our industrial base,” Casey said. “Jobs and our ability to meet the needs of our military are at stake.”

London-based BAE has a production facility in West Manchester Townshipwhere it’s received hundreds of millions of dollars to build, remanufacture and upgrade Bradleys, an armored personnel carrier used by various branches of the U.S.military.

Bradley work supports 517 direct jobs in York County, according to Casey’s office. Additionally, BAE buys components from about 230 suppliers statewide, supporting 3,500 jobs and injecting $60 million into the state economy, according to the senator’s office.

The cuts would cost thousands more jobs across the country, the senators wrote the committee. Casey was joined in the letter by Sen. James Imhofe of Oklahoma, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

“Any decisions to allow the BAE Systems York production line to go cold will increase taxpayer costs, endanger key high-skill jobs, irretrievably damage the capabilities of the industrial base to support the armed forces and risk the loss of uniquely-skilled jobs,” BAE spokesman Randy Coble said in an email.

In early April, BAE said it expected a serious decline in the amount of work the York County facility would do on the Bradley. Many of the cuts are due to sequestration, an official term for the automatic budget cuts facing much of the Defense Department.

BAE was refurbishing four Bradleys a week at the height of the Iraq War, the company said. Today, it’s down to less than two a week. In 2011, BAE spent $26 million with 139 York County-based suppliers.

Editor’s note: This item was modified from its previous version to add that Randy Coble is a spokesman for BAE.

Jim T. Ryan

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