The cuts in Marietta, though, have more to do with a recent dip in demand for the C-130J.
Lockheed workers churned out 36 C-130Js in 2011 to meet the U.S. government's demand, but that number dropped to 32 this year and is set to fall to 24 per year starting in 2013. The company said global demand "remains high, but we must match our domestic and international customers' contractual schedules."
Companywide, Lockheed has cut 26,000 jobs in the past three years, even as it received more money from the government.
The company employs about 8,700 people in Georgia, including about 7,440 at its Marietta plant. Since 2010 the number of Marietta employees has dropped by about 600, and the plant last spring ended production of the F-22 fighter.
The first version of the C-130 was introduced in 1956, and the model has enjoyed remarkable staying power.
Aviation experts said that's because it's long been priced at a reasonable point that both superpowers and smaller nations can afford. And the versatile aircraft has also proved adept at a range of mid-range missions, carrying troops, cargo and even radar-jamming technology for spycraft.
"You can outfit it to do myriad tasks, from carrying paratroopers to carrying humanitarian goods," said Micky Blackwell, a former Lockheed executive.
The company would not say if other plants involved in the C-130J program are also cutting staff. The Tribune-Democrat newspaper reported last week that 50 of 400 employees lost jobs at a parts plant in Johnstown, Penn.
Denise Rakestraw, who heads Local Lodge 709, a union that represents thousands of Lockheed's Marietta employees, said more than 250 people have already lost their jobs since the beginning of the year. The jobs pay between $20 to $26 an hour.
"It's painful," said Rakestraw, who once worked on the C-130 line. "There's still long-term confidence in the C-130 line. It's the most tried and true. I think we'll work through this. It's not going to be a real momentary blip, but it's the nature of the industry to have ups and downs."