A-12 cancellation spurs 150 layoffs at Amecom in College Park

The Amecom division of Litton Systems Inc. in College Park has laid off 150 workers, the latest victims of the Pentagon's decision to cancel the Navy's A-12 attack aircraft program.

The layoffs, which occurred Friday, were announced yesterday by Amecom spokesman John Georg, who added that there would be more layoffs before the end of the month.


Mr. Georg could not say how many more workers would lose their jobs but said it would be fewer than the 150 furloughed Friday. Before the layoffs, Amecom had about 1,000 workers.

In 1988, Amecom was awarded a multimillion-dollar contract from General Dynamics Corp. and McDonnell Douglas Corp. for the development of electronic equipment that was to be used by the new Navy plane to detect and identify other electronic signals, such as those transmitted by other fighter planes or anti-aircraft missiles.


Defense Secretary Dick Cheney canceled the A-12 program last week, saying its builders had so badly mismanaged the program that it could not meet the government's contract terms.

The Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group near Linthicum also had a big piece of the A-12 program. Westinghouse announced Thursday that it is faced with the possibility of laying off 1,200 workers at its plants adjacent to Baltimore-Washington International Airport and in Hunt Valley.

Another military project facing an uncertain future is the "friend or foe" aircraft-identification system being developed by the Bendix Communications Division of Allied Signal Inc. in Towson.

The Air Force has recommended to the Defense Department that the program be ended because of budget constraints. Deputy Secretary of Defense Donald J. Atwood Jr. is reviewing the Air Force's decision and conferring with NATO forces that have expressed strong support for it in the past. Mr. Atwood's decision on the program could come as early as this week.

If funding for the program is not reinstated, Bendix has said, it might have to lay off as many as 300 workers. If work on the program is continued, up to 750 additional workers eventually could be hired.

The identification system would use a transmitter to send out a signal to an aircraft's transponder. If a "friend," the airplane would automatically send back information that easily identifies it.

Representative Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md.-2nd, said the program has faced extinction at least three times in recent years and has made its way back into the budget each time.

Mrs. Bentley said the Air Force recognizes the need for the program but is struggling to find the money to pay for it. The program was originally priced at $4.5 billion but has been trimmed in recent weeks to about $2 billion.


Amecom's Mr. Georg declined to put a dollar value of the company's A-12 contract but said it was a "major program" for Amecom.

He said Amecom is conducting a job fair to help its workers find employment.