March 9, 1998 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Lockheed Martin moves ahead with its plans to lay off 1, 500 to 2, 000 workers at its Tactical Aircraft Systems facility in Fort Worth.
They also suspended non crucial hiring and froze promotions for higher-paid professionals. F-16 orders have slowed in recent years, and even if the company succeeds with current sales efforts to international customers, Lockheed said it can not avoid paring its ranks.
"New programs are still a long way off, " President Dain Hancock wrote in a letter to the plant's 11, 000 employees. "This dip in our production level is now unavoidable, even if we capture significant F-16 orders later this year. "The Lockheed plant employed 31, 000 workers a decade ago, but it faced several waves of layoffs as defense spending plummeted.
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991dramatically altered the defense industry landscape. Lockheed responded, in part, by increasing sales to other countries, and it is currently pushing for the sale of 80 F-16s to the United Arab Emirates
The United States, which has bought more than 2, 000 F-16s through the years, ordered just six in 1997 and three in 1998.