BAE told to halt production, hundreds of jobs in jeopardy

Federal budget cuts looming in Washington have made their way to one of the nation's largest defense contractors located in York County.

BAE Systems, located in West Manchester Township, said it's been told to halt production on all Bradley Fighting Vehicles from 2014 to 2017. The company says it would be extremely costly to shut down completely, and then have to start from scratch in three years.

Officials are urging the government to keep the line going at a reduced level instead.

“Bringing back all those people and re-training people — look at the tooling and equipment around you; this is all going to be gone,” manufacturing director Alice Conner said. “No one really knows what will happen when we shut it down. We've never really shut down this type of capability before.”

Conner said during the troop surge in Iraq, BAE was overhauling seven to eight Bradley vehicles per day. Currently, they are turning over one vehicle a day.

According to initial estimates, the cost of re-starting production is $750 million, Conner said. Instead, BAE is asking for a new contract of $100-$200 million over the next three years to keep up minimal production.

“No one here is an advocate to just to make things we don't need. What we want is to not shut the capability down,” she said. “To keep our skills going and to keep our readiness, frankly — our national security readiness. Then you don't have to worry about, what will happen.”

BAE said if the cuts are approved this budget year, the company would have lay off about 250 local workers in 2014. An additional 7,000 jobs through suppliers and feeder facilities would be affected in 44 states, plus Washington, DC.

Last year, BAE said it spent $19.5 million on supplies in York County alone.

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