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Pentagon Picks New Missile Builder

April 9, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Pentagon picked Lockheed Martin Corp. on Thursday to build its next generation of stealthy, air-launched cruise missiles in a deal that could be worth up to $3 billion.

The Air Force wants to build 2,400 of the satellite-guided missiles, which pilots would launch while far from their targets. The weapons will have a range of about 115 miles and hug the terrain as they sneak past radar systems to attack enemy air defense systems.

The loser in the competition for building the weapon called the ``joint air to surface standoff missile,″ also known as the JASSM, was Boeing Co., based in Seattle, Wash.

The weapon will bolster ``the effectiveness and the versatility″ of the Air Force’s bomber fleet in the coming century, said the service’s acting secretary, F. Whitten Peters, as he made the announcement at the Pentagon.

``These are highly advanced new weapons designed to improve the ability of our forces to strike high priority, well defended targets from long distances with little or no threat to U.S. airplanes launching the missiles,″ said Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon.

Speaking prior to the announcement, Bacon said the weapon will be designed to launch from a variety of planes, including the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F/A-18 Hornet, the B-52, B-1 and B-2 bombers.

The spokesman said that over time, even more aircraft may be able to carry the weapon.

``Of course, we’re disappointed, we had a long history of building this type of weapons system,″ said Doug Kennett, a Boeing spokesman in Washington.

Lockheed Martin, which is basing its effort at its Electronics and Missiles arm in Orlando, Fla., does not currently produce a cruise missile.

The missile, while still highly classified, is expected to have a highly angular design and small wings. It will use the satellite global positioning system to help guide it to its target.

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