Lockheed Martin is top contractor on Pentagon list

Bethesda corporation won $12.7 billion in contracts last year

Defense

February 16, 2000|By Robert Little | Robert Little,SUN STAFF

Lockheed Martin Corp. retained its position as the nation's top defense firm last year, despite a spate of troubles that have hammered its stock price and forced executives to restructure some operations.

According to a report released by the Pentagon yesterday, Maryland's largest corporation received $12.7 billion worth of prime government contracts in the 1999 fiscal year, more than any other company. Seattle-based Boeing Co. was second, with $11.6 billion worth of contracts.

Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin has been the nation's top defense contractor since 1995, the same year it was formed through a merger of Lockheed Corp. and Martin Marietta Corp.

But Boeing has been fast on its heels. Last year Boeing won a prized spy satellite contract, and Lockheed suffered several costly failures, including failed rocket launches and aircraft delivery delays.

Earlier this month, some Lockheed officials wondered privately whether the company would still be the nation's top defense contractor. Earlier this year it consolidated its aircraft units into one business and laid off 2,800 workers.

But Lockheed Martin's share of large federal defense contracts actually grew last year, though not as much as Boeing's. Lockheed gained $400 million in contracts from 1998, while Boeing's share grew by $700 million.

"I think the ranking is indicative of the corporation's strength and its potential," said Lockheed Martin spokesman James L. Fetig.

Lockheed Martin builds various high-dollar hardware for the federal government, including F-16 and F-22 fighter planes, C-130 cargo planes, Atlas and Titan rockets, and numerous satellites and ballistic missiles. It also is one of the government's primary contractors for designing computerized weapons systems.

Boeing has twice the revenue of Lockheed Martin, but its primary business is commercial aircraft. For the government, it builds the Navy's F/A-18 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, C-17 cargo planes, Delta rockets and other systems.

The ranking of the nation's top six defense contractors was unchanged for fiscal year 1999.

Raytheon Co. was the nation's third-largest defense contractor, with $6.4 billion in contracts, followed by General Dynamics Corp. with $4.6 billion and Northrop Grumman Corp. with $3.2 billion. United Technologies Corp., maker of Pratt & Whitney engines, was sixth with $2.4 billion in contracts.

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