By Marcus Weisgerber and Kate Brannen
Published: 12 Sep 2011
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will meet with aerospace industry leaders on Sept. 13 amid a debate over future Pentagon spending.
Panetta “believes that a strong and healthy defense industrial base is vital to our national security, and that preserving the Department’s partnership with industry is a top priority,” George Little, the Pentagon press secretary, said in an Sept. 12 email to reporters. “The Secretary will emphasize the need for industry to work with the Department to promote the twin imperatives of strong national defense and fiscal discipline. He believes that we can work together effectively to achieve that important outcome.”
The meeting with the Aerospace Industries Association comes during National Aerospace Week. It also comes as the U.S. Defense Department is preparing for at least $350 billion in reductions in planned spending over the next decade.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the House Armed Services Committee announced Sept. 12 the formation of a panel that would focus on issues facing the defense industry. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., and Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., will lead the panel.
“They will examine the current defense business environment, to identify contracting or regulatory issues facing the defense industry; the use of incentives and mandates to meet established goals; structural challenges facing various sectors within of the industrial base, including universities and research institutes; impact of the current fiscal environment on the defense industry, at both the prime and subcontractor levels; and opportunities to reduce barriers to entry,” a committee statement said.
“In a time of shrinking budgets and reduced federal spending it is critical that Congress explores ways to streamline defense contracting and reduce regulatory burdens that hamper business growth and prevent companies from entering the defense industry,” Shuster said.
The panel also includes Rep. Allen West, R-Fla.; Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio; Rep. Jon Runyan, R-N.J.; Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii; and Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill.