Saudi Arabia wants to buy 72 of McDonnell Douglas Corp.'s F-15 fighter jets, the company said , in a deal that could save 20,000 aerospace jobs nationwide.
It would be the largest single foreign sale of the Air Force's front-line fighter.
Without the order, McDonnell Douglas would begin laying off the first of about 7,000 F-15 workers at its plant in St. Louis over the next few months, with the entire work force gone by 1993.
The Air Force bought 36 F-15s this year, but it's unclear whether it will buy more, said James Reed, McDonnell Douglas spokesman. Only a handful of fighters are earmarked for other foreign customers next year.
"This really is at the eleventh hour," Reed said yesterday.