The Pentagon has begun to bail out U.S. companies that have seen large parts of their business dry up amid the coronavirus pandemic, in a bid to make sure they can still build weapons.
Officials have announced that five mid-tier defense companies had received a total of $135 million to “help sustain defense-critical workforce capabilities in body armor, aircraft manufacturing, and shipbuilding,” according to a Defense Department statement. “These actions will help to retain critical workforce capabilities throughout the disruption caused by COVID-19 and to restore some jobs lost because of the pandemic,” Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, a Defense Department spokesman, said in the statement.
Meanwhile, a senior Pentagon official told lawmakers that DoD plans to ask Congress for money to reimburse many of its contractors for COVID-related expenditures; for example, wages paid to keep employees on the payroll despite idled production lines and vacated offices; purchases of personal protective gear, and alterations to factory and other work spaces for social distancing.
These moves will buttress earlier Pentagon efforts to shore up its COVID-rattled contractors, including paying firms more money up front and awarding multibillion-dollar contracts earlier than planned.