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Bond, McCaskill join rally for Boeing planes

Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet. (photo: Matt Sepic/KWMU)

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – Both of Missouri's U.S. Senators, Republican Kit Bond and Democrat Claire McCaskill, rallied with Boeing workers at a union hall in suburban St. Louis Sunday afternoon.

They called on the Defense Department and Congress to save the C-17 cargo plane and buy more F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants to phase out the C-17 and order a third fewer Super Hornets this year.

About 1,000 Boeing workers make parts for the cargo plane in St. Louis, and 4,000 more work on the Super Hornet. Boeing officials have said thousands of jobs at parts suppliers across the country are also tied to the program.

Bob Soutier of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council said besides the direct and indirect jobs it provides, the F/A-18 is also vital to the U.S. military.

"We need this not only to protect our country, but to protect our troops that we're sending overseas," Soutier said. "It's just amazing to me that anyone would not consider producing that plane."

The Defense Department recommendations are not final. Congress and President Obama must approve any spending plan.

Bond said he was able to include funding for eight additional C-17s in a supplemental defense spending bill.