Lockheed Martin closing Goodyear plant

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- An aerospace plant in the Phoenix suburb of Goodyear that has a long and storied history developing advanced military radar systems will close by the end of 2015 with the loss of 600 jobs, aerospace giant Lockheed Martin announced Thursday.

The closure of the 500,000-square-foot facility is part of a larger restructuring that Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed said will see the company shed 4,000 jobs and also close facilities in three other states.

The Goodyear facility developed the first synthetic aperture radar systems for the military in the 1950s and '60s when it was part of Goodyear Aircraft Company. The systems vastly improved resolution and were first installed in the nation's premiere spy plane of the era, the SR-71 Blackbird, to map ground installations.

Lockheed acquired the plant in 1993, and it continues to develop software for military sensors and communications equipment there. It is part of the company's Information Systems and Global Solutions division. The programs at the site near the Phoenix-Goodyear airport will be transferred to facilities in Denver and Valley Forge, Pa.

Lockheed also runs a flight test facility at the Goodyear airport for military payload and avionics development. That facility isn't affected.

"This was a very difficult decision, made only after a thorough review of enterprise-wide affordability and efficiency," company spokesman Suzanne Smith said in a statement.

The closure is a big blow to Goodyear, a city of nearly 70,000 residents located 20 miles west of downtown Phoenix that was hit hard by the housing collapse.

Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord said city leaders were bracing for cutbacks as defense spending drops, but not a shutdown.

"We knew at some point that Lockheed Martin was going to be affected by sequestration. We at the city of Goodyear did not know to what point," Lord said. "But this isn't just about our city. This is going to affect our entire state."

City spokeswoman Romina Khananisho said Goodyear will try to find another tenant for the facility, hopefully another aerospace company.

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Lockheed Martin cutting 4,000 jobs, closing plants

Statement from Lockheed Martin

We are extremely proud of our long legacy, going back to the Goodyear Aerospace Corporation, in the local community and the many innovations which continue to make an impact on our national defense. This was a very difficult decision, made only after a thorough review of enterprise-wide affordability and efficiency.

By mid-2015, the Corporation plans to close its operations at our Goodyear, Ariz. facility. This action will affect approximately 600 employees. Current program work will be relocated to existing facilities in Littleton, Colo. and Valley Forge, Pa.

It’s also important to note that these corporate wide actions, which are occurring in numerous locations around the country and follow a strategic review of the Corporation’s current facility capacity and future workload projections, are part of a continuing affordability initiative and are in response to continued declines in U.S. government spending.