TRW-Northrop deal won't sting valley

BY DAVID SPEAKMAN

When Los Angeles-based Northrup Grumman consummates its marriage to fellow defense contractor TRW Inc. this month, layoffs may not hit the Bay Area.

“The place where jobs will be eliminated is corporate headquarters operations,” Northrop Grumman spokesman Randy Belote says, explaining TRW’s Cleveland home base is the most likely target.

That’s welcome news in Silicon Valley and Sunnyvale in particular; defense contractors have been the largest employers in the South Bay’s second-largest city for decades.

Sunnyvale already has felt the loss of jobs from TRW — once the city’s sixth-largest employer.

But after 34 years, TRW blamed Silicon Valley’s high cost of living as it closed up the Sunnyvale headquarters of its electromagnetic systems laboratory unit earlier this year.

That left 130 TRW workers in Sunnyvale, down considerably from a peak of 1,390 in 1995.

But Sunnyvale still is home to large campuses for defense giants Northrop Grumman and Denver-based Lockheed Martin Corp.

“I think the TRW merger will strengthen Northrup Grumman,” Brice McQueen, Sunnyvale’s office industrial development manager says. “The company already has strong business here.”

Some of that business is de-nuking part of the missile systems of the U.S. submarine fleet due to the lowered threat of nuclear war.

“It’s a big program,” Northrop Grumman spokesman Bob Bishop says. “We’re reconfiguring nuclear submarine missile systems to fire conventional missiles.”

Belote says that won’t change with the purchase of TRW.

“We don’t anticipate any layoffs in the Bay Area,” he says. “There is not much overlap at all in Northrop Grumman and TRW’s business. They are very complimentary.”

In fact, he says TRW’s local operations will allow Northrop to reach into new sectors and expand current high tech offerings.

“It will allow us to expand missile defense and add space payload and information technology,” Belote says.