On Friday, October 26, the Pentagon announced that it had awarded Lockheed-Martin Corp. the $300 billion contract to build the Joint-Strike fighter, which will become the main fighter jet of the US Air Force, Navy and Marines. It will also be immediately deployed by the British armed forces. The $300 billion contract to build the 3,002 planes is the largest single defense contract issued by any state in history, and is estimated to mature into a $1 trillion a year business for the maker of the jet. It will also be one of the biggest blows ever given to workers in the defense industry.
The new fighter jet is designed to be an all-purpose aircraft, meaning that it will eventually replace most existing models. In the US it will replace the F-16, A-10, AV-8B and F/A-18C/D, in Britain it will replace the Sea Harrier and GR-7. Although the new long-term contract will create around 4,000 new jobs at Lockheed-Martin's Fort Worth, Texas, defense plant, defense analysts agree that since the new aircraft will become the sole fighter jet of the US military, competitor's military plants will become 'redundant' within ten years. This will toss tens of thousands of aerospace workers out of high-paying unionized jobs in a period of global recession.
The new defense production plans will mainly cut out the military production of Boeing, the world's largest aerospace corporation, at its defense plant in St. Louis, Missouri. The sprawling plant employs around 15,500 workers, and all but one of the plants several products are scheduled to be phased out. Workers at the plant have already seen a long line of layoffs. From 1990 to the present, the number of employees has steadily dropped from 42,000 to its current number. The region has lost some 70,000 defense-related jobs during the last decade, and according to Richard Fleming, President of the Regional Chamber and Growth Association, "Ten years ago, one in every seven jobs in the St. Louis area was defense related. Now its one in 14." Most of the newly-created jobs have been in the service sector, which is mostly temporary, part-time and low wage. And all of this has happened while "defense" spending has greatly bloated!
Meanwhile, the workers at Lockheed-Martin will have a fight ahead of them. Lockheed-Martin unloads much of its production on non-union sub-contractors, a practice that the Lockheed-Martin worker's union has repeatedly fought. Virgil Rogers, business representative of the International Association of Machinists local 776, speaking to the press stated that sub-contracting "was an issue a year-and-a-half ago [during the last contract talks.] It will be an issue until we die." In 1989, the Lockheed-Martin plant in Fort Worth, Texas, employed 31,000, today it employs only 11,500. Workers in the defense industry has been plagued by cutbacks and layoffs since 1990, and even the commissioning of a $1 trillion a year contract has only worsened the situation of aerospace workers.
The US defense industry is entirely dependant upon Washington DC's militarism and imperialism, and it produces many tools of destruction for the Pentagon's 'friends' abroad, at one point even guns and missiles for the now hounded Taliban! It is a fact that the US automaker GM made the engines for Hitler's tanks in the 1930s. Boeing's defense headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, not only sports the American flag in its lobby, but those of Israel, Turkey, Greece, the UK, Pakistan, Egypt, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea and so on - all of Boeing's customers are represented for anyone to see. One Boeing employee anonymously posted a "Are you satisfied with your jet?" form on the corporation’s website that included questions like "Have you used your Boeing A-10 against your own people? If so, were you satisfied with its performance?" Although this 'form' was meant to mock the corporation, it is undoubtedly true that as long as any customer has the money for arms and is 'friendly' to the Pentagon, they can be bought.
These flying pieces of destructive scrap metal are fully paid for by the tax monies of the US-dominated world. Not only that, but the US defense companies are given even more public funding via tax breaks and corporate welfare. Most of this money undoubtedly goes into the salaries of the defense executives, who by their social position are double parasites - Not only do they make their profit from the unpaid labor of the working class, but they also command an industry that produces items used by the "armed bodies of men" against that same international working class. Topping it all off, they make billions out of a glaringly corrupt arrangement. Since the State is its only customer, it is effectively a privatized portion of the public sector. So, not only does the State spend billions of the wages of working class in tax form on weapons it will later use against them directly or indirectly, it gives superfluous defense executives massive salaries in the process.
The Joint Strike Fighter contract is one of the many examples that show how decrepit the system of property and profit has become. The largest investment in an industry's history will result in the scrapping of one half of that same industry! Capitalism offers no way forward, not even for workers engaged in producing weapons for the forces of imperialism.
It is most likely that when Boeing Corp's last defense contracts run out it will try to sell off its operations, which is a huge amount of capital encased within plants covering hundreds of acres and containing the most advanced and precise machinery ever developed. In the present period of global recession, however it is unlikely that they will find a buyer. More of the productive forces will become idle, with no other explanation than senile and decaying capitalism. Huge plants capable of producing jet liners, which unlike jet fighters do not destroy the productive forces but add to them and improve our quality of life will lay unused.