WASHINGTON Top U.S. arms makers are set to meet Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the Pentagon next Tuesday to discuss their concerns about possible deep cuts to the Defense Department budget, the head of the industry's chief trade and lobbying group said.
"We certainly will want to be discussing the circumstances that we're in, in terms of the overall budget situation," Marion Blakey, president of the Aerospace Industries Association, told the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit in Washington on Thursday.
The Pentagon is trimming at least $350 billion from its previously projected spending through the next decade under a debt-ceiling deal signed into law August 2. Additional defense-related cuts of up to $600 billon are to kick in if Congress fails by the end of the year to find at least $1.2 trillion more in deficit reduction over the same period.
Panetta will meet members of the industry group's 18-member executive committee, Blakey said. The committee is currently chaired by James Albaugh, chief executive of Boeing Co's (BA.N) commercial airplanes unit. Boeing is the Pentagon's No. 2 supplier by sales, behind Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N).
The chief executives of Lockheed, Northrop Grumman (NOC.N), BAE Inc (BAES.L) and General Dynamics Corp (GD.N) are also committee members.
The industry will also seek to discuss strategy to preserve the U.S. industrial base, Blakey said.
Panetta has called the trigger that would mandate billions of dollars in new cuts to security spending a "doomsday mechanism" for the Defense Department,
(Reporting by Malathi Nayak and Jim Wolf; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)