Lockheed, Aerospatiale plan joint bid

Firms seek to replace U.K. tanker aircraft fleet

Aircraft industry

June 18, 1999|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

PARIS -- Lockheed Martin Corp. and Aerospatiale Matra SA said yesterday that they will join forces in a bid to replace the United Kingdom's tanker aircraft fleet, the second linkup between the No. 1 U.S. defense contractor and France's biggest aerospace company.

The two companies agreed to jointly bid for a 20-year contract to replace Britain's 40-year-old VC-10 and L-1011 tanker fleet and to provide refueling services. They are bidding for 10 percent to 15 percent of contracts worth $20 billion which Britain will award.

The joint bid cements a partnership announced Wednesday between Aerospatiale and Lockheed to bid together for part of a South Korean aerospace company. That laid the groundwork for a series of other ventures aimed at tapping markets for tankers and large cargo planes.

The partnership aligns Lockheed Martin with one of the main European rivals of the other big U.S. aerospace company, Boeing Co. Aerospatiale Matra is among the four partners in civil plane-maker Airbus Industrie. The companies said they will decide by September which Airbus aircraft they will use as the platform for the tanker venture.

James A. Blackwell, the president of Lockheed Martin's aeronautics division, has said the companies could form a venture within two years to develop a new aerial refueling tanker to replace aging Boeing KC-135 planes.

Blackwell said there could be a market for as many as 400 of the tankers.

The ventures help position Lockheed Martin as seven European governments weigh whether to spend $25 billion to buy as many as 288 cargo planes to replace older craft.

While Lockheed Martin wants to sell its own C-130, Airbus is also developing its own large aircraft.

Lockheed shares rose 93.75 cents yesterday to $34.9375.

Pub Date: 6/18/99

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