Word expected today on warplane contract

Maryland Watch

November 16, 1996

The Pentagon will announce at noon today which two companies will get to build prototypes of the Joint Strike Fighter, the next-generation warplane that could be the richest military contract ever awarded.

Bethesda's Lockheed Martin Corp. is one of three companies anxious to make the cut, which had been scheduled to be announced on Monday.

"They decided to put the announcement as close as possible to the actual decision process," Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Joan Ferguson said. The military selection committee met yesterday, she said.

Industry insiders said the unusual Saturday event was planned to prevent news leaks from manipulating the stock market.

Defense Secretary William J. Perry will announce which two companies get to advance in what could be a $300 billion program. He will be joined by the secretaries of the Air Force and Navy, and by the British ambassador to the United States.

Boeing Co. and McDonnell Douglas Corp. are the other two companies hoping to build the warplane, which will serve all branches of the military and the British Royal Navy.

Pub Date: 11/16/96

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