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Lockheed Jet Keeps Firm in Running for Defense Pact

October 25, 2000|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin Corp. said its Joint Strike Fighter successfully completed its first flight test Tuesday, advancing the contest for a projected $200-billion defense contract, the biggest in U.S. history.

The test came more than a month after rival Boeing Co. demonstrated its version of the JSF.

Lockheed Martin and Boeing are vying for a $19-billion contract the U.S. Department of Defense is expected to award next year to develop the plane. Contracts could total $300 billion over the next decade, contractors have said.

Lockheed's prototype took off from Palmdale and landed a little more than 21 minutes later at Edwards Air Force Base, Hugh Burns, a Lockheed spokesman said. Boeing flew its X-32 A concept demonstrator Sept. 18 in the same area.

"An awesome aircraft," Lockheed Martin X-35 test pilot Tom Morganfeld was quoted as saying by the aerospace company. "The flight was trouble-free from beginning to end, absolutely no surprises."

Lockheed Martin is developing the plane with partners Northrop Grumman Corp., United Technologies Corp.'s Pratt & Whitney unit, and Britain's BAE Systems.

Boeing's 34 partners include Honeywell International Inc., Rolls-Royce, and Raytheon Co.

Shares of Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin were unchanged at $34.15 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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