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Arizona's defense industry bracing for big cutbacks

PHOENIX -- Up to $500 billion in automatic defense cuts could take effect in January if congressional leaders can't reach a deficit reduction deal, according to Reuters.

Lee McPheters with Arizona State University's W.P. School of Business said Arizona's defense industry, which includes contractors Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed and Raytheon, could see cuts of about $2 billion, at a time when the states economy is beginning to refire.

McPheters said that could cost the state 10,000 direct defense jobs but that number will likely double with the trickle down.

"Those jobs support everything in the community," he said. "Everything from grocery stores, doctors, real estate and so forth. So you get a double whammy."

Arizona Republican Congressman Jeff Flake said spending cuts will leave no area of government untouched.

"I hope the Senate does what the House did where we say we need to hit the targets but we should take it from mandatory spending, not defense," he said. "I know that's the direction that senators McCain and Kyl want to go."

McPheters said cuts would be a step back for the state's recovery.

"We're actually seeing manufacturing improve in the state and of course so many of these defense contracts involve high-tech manufacturing," he said.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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