Procurement: December 16, 1999

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The US aerospace industry reported record sales of $155 billion in 1999, the highest ever. Profits on the sales amounted to nearly $11 billion. Sales of civilian airliners led the charge, zooming from $962 million in 1998 to $7.1 billion in 1999. Sales of military aircraft were fairly stable, climbing from $34 billion in 1998 to $35.8 billion in 1999. Despite the record sales, the aerospace industry has announced plans to pressure the State Department for changes to the export rules. The industry complains that existing rules too often freeze them out of lucrative potential markets. In particular, the aerospace industry wants looser rules to sell satellites to designated friendly countries, presumably not including China. --Stephen V Cole

The Pentagon is studying alternatives to the F-22 fighter in case Congress shows even more opposition to the $62 billion program next year than it did this year. The report (due next week) is designed, however, to keep the F-22 flying rather than find ways to replace it. The report cites the unique capabilities of the F-22 Raptor, and notes that these cannot be replaced by any of the plausible alternatives. The Pentagon does not want to drop the F-22 and buy more F-15s, because while the F-15 would still win any future campaign against any potential adversary aircraft, it would take longer and result in more US aircraft shot down than the campaign would take with the vastly superior F-22. No plausible improvements to the F-15 could put it into the same class as the F-22. One favorite Pentagon "alternative" to the F-22 is to delay the Joint Strike Fighter several years and totally redesign it into an F-22 that could drop a few bombs. This would, the Pentagon points out, delay the JSF, produce an inferior hybrid fighter-bomber, and ultimately cost even more. The Pentagon insists that it can complete F-22 development within the $18.9 billion spending cap imposed by Congress, but the General Accounting Office (the investigative arm of Congress) has warned that the Pentagon has not yet reduced the costs enough to meet the spending goal.--Stephen V Cole 


 


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