Lockheed will begin construction of $108 million in advanced aircraft testing and manufacturing facilities in Valencia and Palmdale this month, according to a company spokesman, as part of an modernization program that may lead to hundreds of job transfers from the company's Burbank plant over the next six years.
The centerpiece of the Valencia expansion will be a $19-million anechoic chamber, a testing chamber for aircraft bodies. The project also includes a $31-million, 200,000-square-foot engineering office building.
In Palmdale, the key project is a $25-million manufacturing plant that will produce non-metallic aircraft materials developed at a new Burbank-based research facility, the Composite Development Center. Also to be constructed in Palmdale is a $33-million, 200,000-square-foot office building.
The projects will be financed, in part, by the sale of obsolete and surplus property in Burbank, a move prompting concern among some city officials that Lockheed may have long-range plans to phase out operations at its 60-year-old Burbank plant.
But Lockheed officials said Sunday that the company, which relocated its headquarters from Burbank to Calabasas in June, 1986, has no plans to leave Burbank. They said three facilities being abandoned in Burbank were determined to be "beyond economical repair."
"We're still making investments in Burbank and we plan to continue," said Nick Durutta, a Lockheed spokesman.
Durutta said that up to 3,000 employees overall from Georgia as well as from Burbank and Ontario in Southern California will likely be transfered to the new Valencia and Palmdale facilities over the next six years.
Separately, Lockheed said it began notifying workers Friday that it will eliminate 200 to 300 jobs at its Austin, Tex., division because of Defense Department budget cuts and the Intermediate Nuclear Force treaty. G. M. (Mike) Laden, vice president and general manager of the division, said workers will have at least three weeks to find other jobs within Lockheed Austin or other Lockheed divisions. If they cannot find work elsewhere in the company, they will be laid off, he said.