The same week that workers at the Army’s Ohio tank plant learned their programs were getting more money, workers at a helicopter plant in Pennsylvania learned that their Army program was being canceled. It’s a big deal at the Boeing rotorcraft plant near Philadelphia, because 2,000 workers support production of the Army’s CH-47 Chinook. Chinook is the Army’s heaviest, fastest helicopter, but it has lost lift capacity as equipment was added, and a planned upgrade would have restored that capacity. Now, the Army says it can do without the upgrade–even though it will lose the organic capability to transport its next-generation jeep. Why it would make such a decision for a rotorcraft expected to remain in service 40 more years is unclear. What is clear is that the Army didn’t give much thought to all the jobs that might be lost; how Chinook sales to allies might be affected; or how the loss of revenue from Chinook upgrades would impact other military work at the plant. Somebody needs to tell the Army that looking out for the manufacturing sector is a top priority with the commander in chief. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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