Bob Joseph/WNBF News [file][/caption]Lockheed Martin, Tioga County's biggest employer, has announced it intends to acquire Sikorsky Aircraft for $9 billion in cash.

Lockheed has competed for business with Sikorsky and worked with the Connecticut-based company on many military helicopter programs for years.

Lockheed Martin president Marilyn Hewson said "Sikorsky is a natural fit" for the company. She said the purchase should help Lockheed extend its "core business into the growing areas of helicopter production and sustainment."

Lockheed said it intends to align Sikorsky under its Mission Systems and Training business area, which includes the company's Owego plant.

Sikorsky is noted for making the Marine One presidential helicopters for decades. Ten years ago, Lockheed Martin defeated Sikorsky in a spirited competition to build the next generation presidential chopper.

Lockheed Martin's efforts to develop the new helicopter were shut down after major cost overruns in the program. Sikorsky then was awarded a revised Marine One contract. Lockheed Martin now is working with Sikorsky on the new aircraft.

There was no immediate word on what effect the Sikorsky purchase may have on  Lockheed Martin's Tioga site. About 2,700 people work at the plant.

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