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2 Firms in State Get Big Pacts for Rail-Based MX : Rockwell, Westinghouse Get $329 Million to Begin Full-Scale Development

May 19, 1988|JOHN M. BRODER and JAMES S. GRANELLI | Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department has begun full-scale development of the rail-mobile version of the MX intercontinental nuclear missile by awarding $329 million in contracts to firms based in Anaheim and Sunnyvale, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

Rockwell International Corp.'s Autonetics Electronics Systems division in Anaheim was awarded $161.7 million to develop and test the mobile missile's launch control and security systems.

Westinghouse Electric Corp.'s Marine division in Sunnyvale won a $167-million contract to design, develop and test the missile launching car.

The contracts for the Peacekeeper Rail Garrison program are to be completed by 1992, the Pentagon said.

Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci said earlier this year that he favors the rail-mobile version of the huge ballistic missile because it would be difficult for the Soviets to target and hit. Congress, however, has not yet approved the rail-car basing plan.

Rockwell's Autonetics division, which has been working on the contract for about a year, will design and produce the launch control system car and the security car at new facilities it is buying in San Bernardino, just south of Norton Air Force Base.

Rockwell said about 200 employees will be needed on the program by the end of the year, and the work force will grow to a peak of 500 to 700 employees in 1990, the middle of the four-year contract.

The division had tried to find facilities in Orange County near its Anaheim plant, but no site could be found quickly enough. Besides, Rockwell said, many division employees live closer to San Bernardino than Anaheim.

The initial contract, which calls for five launch control cars and four security cars, could lead to further contracts giving Rockwell $1 billion of business during the expected 10-year life of the Peacekeeper program, said Donald R. Beall, the company's chairman and chief executive.

The Air Force currently has 38 of the 10-warhead missiles based in silos at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, near Cheyenne, Wyo. Congress has approved placing an additional 12 MX missiles in silos by the end of this year.

The Pentagon has been pressing for an additional 50 missiles, to be placed on rail cars that would be kept on military bases, or garrisons, in peacetime and deployed over commercial railroad tracks if war were imminent.

Carlucci said in congressional testimony earlier this year that if Congress does not authorize the 50 additional missiles, he would favor taking some or all of the 50 silo-based missiles out of the ground and putting them on rail cars.

The "rail garrison" system will consist of 50 missiles to be based aboard 25 trains, each carrying two missiles, according to a Pentagon statement.

Each train would include two locomotives and six cars--two missile launchers with missiles inside, one launch control car, two security cars and a maintenance car. Other dummy cars would be added to the train to make look like an ordinary freight train.

Boeing won a contract last fall to make the locomotives and maintenance cars.

The Democratic-controlled Congress supports development of a mobile intercontinental missile, but is divided over whether to proceed with the rail-based MX or the smaller, single-warhead "Midgetman," which would travel the roads on specially hardened trucks.

Both programs are currently alive, with the Midgetman more popular in the House and the rail MX the preferred option in the Senate.

In the fiscal 1989 budget now before Congress, the House set aside $600 million for Midgetman and $100 million for rail-based MX, while the Senate earmarked $700 million for rail garrison and only $50 million for Midgetman.

Carlucci had requested $793 million for the MX rail-basing plan. Although he informed Congress that he wanted to kill the Midgetman program, he requested $200 million to keep the program alive until the next President could review the issue.

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