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Pentagon OKs Fighter Jet Production

THE ECONOMY : AEROSPACE | NATION/WORLD

March 28, 1997|James F. Peltz

Defense Secretary William Cohen approved initial production of new E and F versions of the Navy F/A-18 fighter, giving the plane a major boost in an internal Pentagon dogfight over which warplanes it wants for the future. The Navy released a memo from Paul Kaminski, the Pentagon's chief acquisition official, approving purchase of the first 62 E and F fighters over the next three years. The decision is also a big boost to the 2,400 Northrop Grumman Corp. workers who build 40% of the F/A-18s in El Segundo for the jets' prime contractor, McDonnell Douglas Corp. "It's certainly a big win" for the companies, said Jon Kutler, president of Quarterdeck Investment Partners, an aerospace investment specialist in Los Angeles. The E and F models, denoting one- and two-seat versions, will cost about $48 million each. The Navy eventually wants 1,000 of the aircraft.

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