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With a financial crisis pinching federal coffers and deep cuts in federal spending looming, multi billion-dollar weapons purchases could take a serious hit. Neither candidate has outlined Pentagon cuts for fear of losing votes, but industry officials and analysts believe an eight-year boom in military spending is about to end.
Defense cuts could take several years to unfold, but they could hit Southern California particularly hard. Military spending has been a key economic driver, helping to offset job losses from the region's housing downturn.
Although big cutbacks are looming, analysts said military spending wouldn't drop right away because much of the Pentagon budget has already been set for the next two years. Depending on who becomes president, some programs could even get a boost.
Northrop's chief executive, Ronald D. Sugar, said that although he didn't have a "crystal ball," the global financial turmoil wasn't reducing conflict overseas. "The demand for national security is not going to diminish," he said.