Senator:Missile work a boon

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 22, 2002

BNI Newswire

ALEXANDER CITY – Work being done on missile research and development at Lockheed Martin in Pike County will help in the war on terrorism ­ and help boost Alabama’s economy, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said Thursday.

Sessions, on a visit to a chamber of commerce lunch in Alexander City, updated residents on various Washington issues.

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The senator, who is planning to run for reelection, said he is proud of President Bush’s stand on the war on terrorism ­ and on the regimes Bush has termed the "axis of evil."

"I’m proud he’s willing to speak with such clarity about different regimes in this world," Sessions said. "I’m glad he told the truth about (North Korea). This is an unacceptable regime

it is threatening to the world."

The United States needs to "retool" its defense department, Sessions said. Part of that effort is being achieved in the work done in Pike County and Huntsville and other areas of Alabama, he said.

Lockheed Martin’s Pike County assembly facility produces a variety of defensive weapons, from the Patriot missile to the Hellfire II and JASSM missiles.

It also produces the AGM-142, an advanced, precision-guided air-to-ground missile used against such targets as bunkers and missile sites; and the Javelin, a shoulder-fired antiarmor system developed and produced in conjunction with Raytheon.

"We are very deeply involved in manufacturing and research on missiles," Sessions said of the state. "Alabama is disproportionately benefitting from the shift to high-tech weapons."

In other news from Washington, Sessions said he was pleased with the efforts to provide more federal money for schools, although he emphasized that 90 percent of school funding comes at the state and local level.

"We don’t want to lose that fundamental value that education is a local program," he said.

But Sessions wishes Congress had made progress on passing an economic stimulus package.

His own "family friendly" stimulus package, Sessions said, did not come up for a vote.

Still, Sessions said he is optimistic about economists’ predictions about a higher gross domestic product in coming months.