ST. LOUIS – The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved the funding needed for Boeing Co.’s Growler aircraft production line to remain open for another year and 3,000 jobs that were going to be eliminated once the line shut down to be saved, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), and U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart (D-Illinois), said recently at Boeing Defense, Space and Security in St. Louis.
As chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Durbin included $1.2 billion to purchase 12 EA-18G Growler combat planes made in St. Louis and $100 million to support the current production line in the defense subcommittee’s fiscal year 2015 appropriations bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday. The bill goes before the full Senate for approval.
“This funding will support jobs in the region and invest in the future defense of our nation,” Durbin said. “In my role as chairman, I want to ensure our service members, their families, and our military and civilian workforce has the support they need and deserve. Continued funding for the Growler production line will provide our military leaders with the aircraft they need to perform critical attack missions for the Navy. Back home, the funding for the Growler line, which has been in jeopardy, preserves the heart of the St. Louis defense industrial base and its enormous impact on the regional economy. This funding will ensure that the top-notch, highly skilled workers on the Growler production line will remain on the job through 2017.”
“I fully support devoting additional resources to the Growler, which is a critically important aircraft in our arsenal,” McCaskill said. “The Growler will continue to be more than just a boon for Missouri jobs, but for our entire national defense. And as the need for airborne electronic attack capability continues to grow rapidly in the coming decades, this technology—a critical element in our defense readiness—must remain a national priority.”
“This is a big victory for Southern Illinois,” Enyart said. “Senator Durbin and I have worked long and hard to secure funding for these Growlers through both the House and Senate appropriation bills. These Growlers mean not only the security of our nation, but the security of jobs at Boeing’s St. Louis facility which employs 2,000 Illinoisans – many of whom call Southern Illinois home. I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to pass this bill.”
The Navy is replacing its aging, carrier-based EA-6B electronic attack aircraft with modern EA-18 Growlers, which share a common airframe with the Super Hornet and are also produced in St. Louis. Growlers combat aircraft that jam IEDs, enemy radars and surface to air missile defenses. The Department of the Navy has identified a need for up to 22 more EA-18G Growlers as part of its unfunded priorities list.
Earlier this year, the St. Louis production line for the Growler was scheduled to shut down after 2016, unless Boeing was able to find buyers for the plane, either from the U.S. military or internationally. The proposed funding will keep the production line strong into 2017. The funding would save 13,500 direct and indirect jobs in suppliers in both Missouri and Illinois. The annual economic impact from those suppliers is $640 million in Missouri and $30 million in Illinois. Boeing Defense, Space and Security is a unit of Chicago-based Boeing Co. that employs 15,110 full-time employees, including 2,000 from Illinois.