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Schumer Steps Up Lobbying Effort To Deliver Federal Copter Contracts To Owego's Lockheed Martin Plant

Schumer: The estimated hundreds of jobs that could come if Lockheed gets Presidential and US 101 contracts would be huge boost for the region

Schumer, who lobbied the Defense Department on Lockheed's behalf, visits Owego plant to tour the hanger, address project team for the US 101 proposals

US Senator Charles E. Schumer today met with workers and executives at Lockheed Martin's Owego plant, toured the site, and detailed his support of the plant's bids for two massive multimillion dollar federal contracts. Schumer said that were the plant to get the contract to build helicopters that transport the president and a separate one to perform military search and rescue operations, the influx of jobs and prestige could be the shot in the arm the local economy sorely needs.

"A lot of regions have fallen on hard times, but few have taken the hit that the Greater Binghamton area has," Schumer said. "The good news is that there are a number of big contracts coming down the chute, so if we can get these first few, there could be a windfall down the line. Just being asked to bid for the contract is a good sign, but this is still an uphill battle and I want to help any way I can to convince the President and the Pentagon that Lockheed's helicopter is the best one in the country."

In August, the US Navy selected Lockheed Martin and United Technology Corporations Sikorsky Aircraft unit to compete for the contract to build the new Marine One helicopter fleet that will fly the President. The proposals are due February 2 and Lockheed will learn of its fate by May. The presidential fleet contract, which could be the first of several big defense contracts over the next few years, could result in hundreds of new jobs at Lockheed's Owego plant, according to the company.

Another defense contract that could be awarded shortly after the presidential fleet contract involves replacing the aging HH60 Pave Hawk helicopters currently used in combat search and rescue (CSAR) operations. Lockheed Martin leads a team with AgustaWestland and Bell Helicopter to offer the US101 a USbuilt version of AgustaWestland's successful EH101 helicopter for the Marine One mission and other US government opportunities.

Schumer lobbied the Defense Department on Lockheed's behalf earlier this year, and said he will continue to keep up the pressure. "I believe that the US101s mission reaction time, range, cabin space, survivability and adverse weather operability make it ideally suited to replace the HH60 Pave Hawk as the U.S. Air Forces CSAR aircraft," Schumer wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "In addition to its proven performance, because this is an 'off the shelf' solution, the American taxpayer will not have to shoulder the costs of development."

The initial contract on the Presidential fleet would allow the selected company to lead production of presidential helicopters that fly the President from the White House lawn to local destinations or to Air Force One for longer trips. The aircrafts would be delivered by 2007.