In an aggressive letter to Pratt & Whitney Thursday, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, D-5th District, said he views the potential closing of the company's Cheshire plant as a threat to national security and is spreading that view in Congress.
Murphy called the potential transfer of the factory's work on the F-117 engine for the Air Force's C-17 transport aircraft "worrisome," given Cheshire's special expertise in the C-17's engine.
"It is my understanding that, currently, the Cheshire facility is the only facility in the Pratt & Whitney network that provides overhaul work on the F-117," he wrote to Pratt President David Hess.
"I strongly encourage you to consider the impact that your decision will have on your commitment to the United States Air Force," he wrote, and noted that he has raised the matter with Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
"I believe closing the facility is the wrong way to proceed and as such have notified [Skelton] of ... the negative impact its closing may have on the readiness of our nation's C-17 fleet."
Pratt announced Tuesday that it is weighing whether to shut down the Cheshire plant, which employs 825 people, and a smaller unit in East Hartford that employs 175, citing flagging business.
The company issued a statement in response to Murphy's letter that said no decision has been made and that "ensuring that the F-117 can be efficiently and safely maintained will be a critical factor in our final determination."
Pratt also said that "this evaluation is between Pratt & Whitney and the union and we feel that the details of these discussions are best kept between the parties involved."
Company officials are expected to inform the Machinists union today where it might move Cheshire's responsibilities, which also includes commercial engine repair. Over the next 45 days they will "explore alternatives to moving this work out of Connecticut."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun