WASHINGTON ― A bipartisan group of 13 lawmakers is calling on the Pentagon to support Lockheed Martin’s proposed $4.4 billon acquisition of rocket maker Aerojet Rocketdyne, according to their letter, obtained by Defense News.

Government approval of the takeover, under review by the Pentagon, is “in both our national security interests and the U.S. taxpayers’ best interest,” says the Aug. 31 letter to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks.

The letter, led by Reps. Steve Womack, R-Ark., and Marc Veasey, D-Texas, comes weeks after Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wrote to the Federal Trade Commission to question the proposed merger.

Raytheon Technologies, based in Warren’s home state, has said it would challenge the deal with regulators, voicing concerns that Lockheed, a top competitor, would absorb a key supplier of its solid-fuel rocket motors, stifling competition in the missile market.

The proponents argue in their letter the merger would “restore competitive balance,” following Northrop Grumman’s acquisition of another major rocket propulsion firm, Orbital ATK. They signaled support for Lockheed’s plan to follow the same template as the Northrop-Orbital deal.

“The only reasonable assurance we have that the American rocket propulsion manufacturing sector remains strong and has at least two well-resourced merchant suppliers for all defense and space propulsion products is to approve the merger with Lockheed,” their letter reads.

Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.

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