Steep defense industrial erosion seen

Sep 22, 2009 | 10:00 AM | Martyn Chase

An extensive study of the U.S. defense industrial base shows sharp erosion in 13 vital sectors since 2001, including machine tools, metal heat treating, forging and stamping, special tool and die, battery production and others.

The report, written by Michael Webber for the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), was published recently in a book titled Manufacturing A Better Future for America. Webber is associate professor and associate director of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas.

Although previous studies have examined individual defense bellwether sectors such as machine tools and semiconductors, Webber's report is significant because it sweeps across a wide swath of defense production sectors and examines some often overlooked niche areas.

The findings aren't encouraging overall and outright dire for some sectors. "For 13 of the 16 industries, significant erosion has taken place without any signs of recovery despite fairly robust economic growth between 2002 and 2007," Webber noted.....

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