Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey visited the Boeing plant in Ridley, Township, Delaware County today, urging the Defense Department to renew contracts to manufacture Chinook helicopters there.

Casey faces re-election in a year in which jobs and the economy will be dominant issues.

At his news conference he was flanked by members of the United Auto Workers who make the massive twin-engine Chinook helicopters. The announcement was simply that Casey has written Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urging him to renew a new multi-year Chinook contract when the current one expires in October.

"I'm bascially saying to Secretary Panetta, 'this is an essential part of our ability to be successful in Afghanistan and other places, and we want you to keep it going,'" Casey said.

Afterward Casey said his appearance wasn't about the election.

"This is a US Senator doing his job," Casey said, "and doing his job on the most important issue to Pennsylvania, which is preserving jobs and doing everything we can to create jobs or at least create the conditions that leads to job creation."

The Boeing plant employs about 6200 people. A third of them work on the Chinook.