US arms makers to meet Pentagon on looming budget cuts

WASHINGTON, Sept 4 Wed Sep 5, 2012 12:42am IST

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WASHINGTON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Top U.S. aerospace and defense contractors are set to meet the Defense Department this month to discuss concerns about the impact of automatic budget cuts due to take effect in January unless Congress acts to repeal or delay them, the top executive of the industry's main trade group said on Tuesday.

The meeting, set from Sept. 18, will bring together Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and the 18-member executive committee of the Aerospace Industries Association, said Marion Blakey, president of the Aerospace Industries Association.

The automatic across-the-board cuts, called sequestration, are set to kick in on Jan. 2 if Congress fails to agree on $1.2 trillion in deficit-reduction measures. One half of the cuts would be imposed on national defense spending on top of $487 billion in military cuts already mandated over the coming nine years.

The talks with Carter, who runs the Pentagon on a day-to-day basis, will be "undoubtedly mostly about sequestration and how contracts will be handled," Blakey told a Reuters roundtable.

The trade group's executive committee is led by David Hess, president of United Technologies Corp's Pratt & Whitney engine-making unit. Also included on the committee are the chief executives of Lockheed Martin Corp, Northrop Grumman Corp, Boeing Co's commercial airplane business and General Dynamics Corp.

Leaders of a defense industrial base task force organized by the Aerospace Industries Association along with two other industry groups met Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on July 23 to discuss what the groups called sequestration's "severe consequences" on the U.S. industrial base and national security.

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