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MARIETTA, Ga. -- Layoffs are nothing new for a company like Lockheed Martin that earns most of its living from government contracts.

Hiring and firing ebbs and flows with contracts.

After a few years of hiring more workers, the aerospace giant's Marietta assembly plant has been slowly letting them go.

It cut its workforce by about 600 jobs since 2010, down to around 7,440.

Around 200 jobs were cut when its F-22 stealth fighter production ended earlier this year.

Now the company has announced it will cut another 550 jobs because orders for its C-130 cargo plane have shrunk by about one third.

Many, but not all, of those job cuts will be from retirements or attrition.

But all of those cuts pale in comparison to what the company and other defense contractors are facing if drastic budget cuts happen at the end of this year.

"We definitely can't let this happen," Georgia Congressman David Scott told 11 Alive on Thursday.

He believes the dire prediction made by Lockheed Martin CEO Robert Stevens during Congressional testimony last month.

Stevens said the $500-billion in defense cuts could mean the company will have to cut its 120,000 worldwide work force by 10%.

He said that could mean as many as 10,000 to 20,000 jobs lost.

On Thursday, Lockheed Martin corporate spokesperson Kelli Raulerson wrote 11 Alive that the company doesn't yet know where those cuts would come.

"We don't know how sequestration will affect any individual program or facility," she said.

Democratic Congressman Scott told 11 Alive he is working with Republicans to try and solve the budget crisis before the automatic cuts kick in at the end of December.

"I've got a feeling that this Congress is going to come to its senses now and understand that we've got to act for the American people and we've got to do it with Democrats and Republicans working together," he added.

Scott said he is also concerned about equally drastic automatic cuts to social programs if the budget crisis continues.

Republican Georgia Senator Johnny Isackson sent 11 Alive a written statement saying, "I have traveled to many of our military installations in Georgia this month with Senator Chambliss and Georgia Congressmen to ensure the public is aware of this issue and to let the military know that we are trying to prevent these devastating cuts."

Some critics have accused Lockheed Martin and others of crying wolf about huge layoffs.

Federal law requires the company to give its workers at least 60 days advance notice of any job cuts.

That could mean the notices would go out to thousands of Lockheed Martin workers around November 2nd, one week before the fall election.

Congressman Scott believes the threat of those WARN notices will give politicians seeking re-election an extra incentive to solve the crisis before then.

Lockheed Martin corporate spokesperson Raulerson wrote, "Before we make any decision about layoffs and issuing WARN notices, we will carefully consider forthcoming clarifying guidance from OMB (Office of Management and Budget) in accordance with the Sequestration Transparency Act, the DOL's (Department of Labor's) recent guidance and other pertinent laws and regulations in our business planning process."

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