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Powerful forces in Tucson's economy that could be brought down by tight budgets

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Photo: Video by kgun9.com

Powerful forces in Tucson's economy that could be brought down by tight budgets

By Craig Smith. CREATED Apr 15, 2014

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Two defense programs critical to the Tucson economy are in danger of being cut from the Pentagon's budget.

The Navy says it has enough of Raytheon's Tomahawk cruise missile so it wants to stop production two years from now.  That would shut down a big part of Raytheon's work here in Tucson.
    
The Air Force plan to ground the A-10 Warthog could cut thousands of jobs from Davis Monthan and leave it vulnerable to a total shut down.
     
Tuesday a top Air Force General toured Davis-Monthan.  So did he have good news?
        
Four Star General Mike Hostage runs Air Combat Command and oversees 13 bases including DM.  When it comes to Tucson's base he had some encouraging words, but he doesn't have the last word.

Ground troops love how the A-10 protects them by staying, lower, slower and closer.
    
But budget cuts could bring the plane down.

"He said these budget cuts are heinous."
    
That's Congressman Ron Barber quoting Air Force General Mike Hostage.  Reporters were not allowed as the General met with Congressman Barber and other local leaders but the Congressman says the General made it clear budget cuts are slashing programs the Pentagon wants to keep.
     
While Barber fights for the A-10 he's also looking to get DM F-16 units that may be displaced from Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix as new F-35s are based there.
    
He says General Hostage told him Davis Monthan is a base he wants to keep open because it has qualities even nearby Luke Air Force Base can't match.
     
Barber says DM is closer to a key training range than Luke and has closer ties to the Army at Fort Huachuca.

"He never mentioned Luke as one of those bases that he has to have into the future."

Congressman Barber recognized General Hostage does not decide the fate of DM but he hopes the opinion of the Air Force's top combat commander will help keep the base open.

Raytheon builds the Navy's Tomahawk missile in Tucson.  The Navy says it wants to stop building Tomahawks in 2016.  Raytheon says that will affect operations for Tucson and about a hundred suppliers around the U.S.
      
A Raytheon spokesman says "Raytheon is in discussions with the U.S. Navy about keeping the production line open and accelerating recertification of the Tomahawk cruise missiles now in the Navy's inventory."    
     
The Tomahawk's been important in every major U-S conflict since the first Gulf War. Though the Navy says it has four thousand missiles and that's enough, Barber worries you could go through those fast in an emergency and if you let production shut down, you won't have the people and parts you need to build more in a hurry.
 

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

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Craig enjoys using innovative writing and visuals to make difficult stories easier to understand. As a newsroom manager at KGUN 9, Craig was part of the team that won three best newscast awards from Arizona Associated Press