LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — One hundred workers will be losing their jobs at Draken’s Lakeland facility after the company lost a contract with the U.S. military.
A notice filed with the state shows the U.S. Air Force declined to renew Draken International’s ADAIR II contract.
The contract was out of Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
As a result, the company is permanently closing its location in Nevada and is laying off 100 of its 187 employees at it’s headquarters in Lakeland.
The company provides adversary air training services, often using refurbished jets.
“They bring in old jets that are then converted to F-16 equivalents, in terms of the way they’re flown on the inside,” Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz said. “These are jets from other countries’ air forces and they rebuild those jets.”
According to the notice, all the location’s positions are impacted, including aircraft mechanics, and avionic and hydraulic technicians.
“Many of those employees will have an opportunity to return, that would be my expectation,” Mayor Mutz said. “I think this is more of an interruption as a result of contracts rather than anything else.”
Draken did not respond to News Channel 8’s request for comment Monday.
Local leaders said the workers should be able to find a place to land.
“We’re very fortunate here in Lakeland to have such a tremendous aerospace community,” Lakeland Chamber of Commerce president & CEO Amy Wiggins said. “Many people don’t recognize that.”
The area in and around Lakeland Linder International Airport, where Draken is located, is not just employing aerospace workers, but educating them too.
“We are kind of growing our own aircraft mechanics and pilots, and making sure that there are folks who can fill the job demands that are out there for those industries,” Wiggins said.
The airport is at 100 percent occupancy with aerospace and commerce-related companies in need of skilled workers.
“All 100 of those people we hope can find something that they can get at least temporarily, if not permanently, while Draken continues to work their contract negotiations,” Mayor Mutz said.
In the notice, Draken states some workers may be able to be relocated and remain employed but it is not known which employees, if any, would be offered that option.