Undersecretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal toured Raytheon Missile Systems on Wednesday, looking at its operations and how budget cuts are affecting production.
U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, a Tucson Democrat, is hosting Westphal for a two-day tour of Southern Arizona defense contractors.
The tour continues todlay at Fort Huachuca, where Westphal and Barber will meet with military leaders and the Fort Huachuca 50, an organization that supports the mission and personnel of the fort.
Fort Huachuca has an intelligence training center, a communications systems design center and an electronic proving ground, which tests radio systems and equipment.
“Raytheon is a very important defense partner, and it produces a number of systems for us,” Westphal said at a news conference Wednesday at Tucson International Airport’s executive terminal before he toured Raytheon’s plant complex near the airport.
Westphal planned to meet with administrators and “talk to the work force” to see how they are adjusting to budget reductions and the procurement of defense systems.
Defense systems built by Raytheon for the Army, said Westphal, are:
• The Excalibur, a 155 mm precision-guided artillery projectile that uses GPS satellite guidance to strike within about 13 feet of its target at a range of more than 20 miles. The Excalibur was developed and made for the Army and Marine Corps by Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson.
• The TOW (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire- or Wireless-guided) missile is an anti-tank weapon made by Raytheon in Tucson and deployed by the U.S. and more than 40 allied nations. Fired from mobile or vehicle-mounted launchers and helicopters, the TOW can also be used against fortifications and vehicles.
• JLENS — a shortened acronym for Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System — is a system of two football-field-sized aerostats, or tethered blimps, that float at 10,000 feet and carry powerful radars to detect and target threats such as cruise missiles. The Army recently took delivery of one JLENS system from the program’s prime contractor, Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems unit, based in Tewksbury, Mass.
Barber, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, said, “Sequestration is the most irresponsible decision Congress has made. .... Across-the-board cuts are hurting communities and the military.”
Military-service personnel need to be properly supported, said Barber. He said the Army will reduce its ranks by 80,000 soldiers over the next five years.
“I do have hope that Congress will come up with a budget before the end of the fiscal year. But we are preparing for a reality of a continuing resolution,” said Westphal.
Under continuing resolutions, troops are not able to train adequately, and that is dangerous, Westphal said.