Senator Chuck Grassley

The largest employer in Iowa’s second-largest city is being bought in what’s considered the biggest deal in aerospace industry history.

Avionics maker Rockwell Collins, headquartered in Cedar Rapids, is being purchased by Connecticut-based rival United Technologies for $23 billion.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says it’s still unclear whether there may be any antitrust issues that derail the deal. “It will get vigorous review by the Justice Department, as all mergers do,” Grassley says. “We’ll just have to let nature take its course and generally, things are followed in a fairly non-political way, in regard to that.”

The sale was announced Monday night. Rockwell reportedly has about $7 billion in debt, pushing the deal to be valued at $30 billion.

“I will be having a conversation with the CEOs of United Technology on one hand and Rockwell Collins on the other hand,” Grassley says. “We’ll just have to wait and see what they tell me.” Rockwell Collins employs about 30,000 people globally, including 8,000 in Cedar Rapids. It’s unclear how many of them may face losing their jobs with the acquisition.

Grassley says, “I’m going to be very concerned that jobs not leave Cedar Rapids and Manchester and there’s a couple of other places they have plants in Iowa.” Rockwell makes a variety of technology used in aviation, ranging from radar systems to the seats in airliners, while part of United Technologies makes aircraft components, including engines.