A Brief History of Grumman Aircraft Corporation

Grumman was founded in 1929 by Leroy Grumman. In 1936 the company moved it's operations to Bethpage. The hamlet was on the edge of the vast Hempstead Plains, the largest expanse of prairie in the United States east of the Mississippi. The start of World War II provided Grumman with ample business, and the corporation produced Navy fighter planes like the Wildcat and Hellcat. Pilots of Hellcats were responsible for over half of all enemy aircraft destroyed by the Navy and Marines during World War II. The start of the jet age began for Grumman in 1957. The space age wasn't far behind, and the Apollo Lunar Module which brought astronauts to the moon was designed and built by Grumman at their Bethpage facility(2). The famous F-14 Tomcat, the fighter plane used in the movie TopGun, was designed and manufactured by Grumman in the 1970s. The F-14 would be the backbone of Grumman until the end of the Cold War.
In 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed, and this marked the start of consolidation and retraction in the defense industry. Grumman was no exception. For years, the F-14 program was carefully guarded by congress members from Long Island as a way of preserving jobs for constituents. Defense cuts, and Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney's opposition to the F-14 made maintaining the program untenable. Cheney argued the F-14 was a 1960s design that should be replaced by newer aircraft.
In February 1991 the F-14 modernization program was cancelled, saving taxpayers $1 billion dollars. Production of the F-14 was also set to end, saving $16 billion by 1997. The F-14 accounted for 1/5 of Grumman's total sales. Grumman, which employed over 26,000 employees prepared for a round of layoffs. Grumman's total revenue for 1990 was $4 billion. In April 1991, 7.4% of Grumman staff we laid off, and by the end of 1992 aircraft manufacturing in Bethpage drew to a close. The New York Times reported that 1.5 million feet of space now sat empty, the equivalent of 26 football fields
Photo: A F-14 Tomcat intercepts a Soviet TU-95 Bear. (This photo is property of the US Government, and therefore not restricted by copyright)