January 20, 2005 (by Lieven Dewitte) - About 220 workers on the F-16 production line were handed layoff notices Wednesday by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in Fort Worth as the defense contractor begins cuts in its F-16 Fighting Falcon program.
The layoffs, the first round of many, follow three years of job growth in the F-16 program. The company has about 15,500 employees - about 6,000 of which were working on the F-16s last year.
It is the first wave of 800 to 1,000 layoffs of F-16 workers planned this year.
All of the employees affected are aircraft assemblers, mechanics, painters and other production workers. Some may still be reassigned to other duties and all others will get outplacement services.
Lockheed gave out 60-day warning notices to the assembly line workers, who will leave the company in March.
The Fort Worth-based company is moving out of the F-16 fighter jet's development and initial production phases and not as many workers are needed.
Lockheed Martin has a backlog of about 200 planes but they did not book any new orders for F-16 fighter jets in 2004.
Without new orders, production of the F-16 would end in late 2008.