U.S. pays out $11 billion for fighter program Several Md. companies will be subcontractors


The Air Force announced yesterday the release of nearly $11 billion in contracts for the full-scale development of the first 13 production models of the new Advanced Tactical Fighter that is designed to provide the United States with air superiority well into the 21st century.

And at least a portion of that money is expected to trickle down into Maryland's struggling economy.

The bulk of the money, about $9.5 billion, goes to the contracting team of Lockheed Corp., Boeing Co. and General Dynamics Corp. In April, the Lockheed team was picked over a partnership of Northrop Corp. and McDonnell Douglas Corp. to supply nearly 650 of the next generation of radar-evading fighter planes for an estimated $70 billion.

The Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group in Linthicum is in line for more than $1.4 billion in subcontract orders to supply radars for the "stealth" fighter that is now called the F-22.

Bethesda-based Martin Marietta Corp. and Fairchild Defense Co. Germantown also stand to benefit from the F-22 program.

Fairchild is expected to supply an electronic-memory device that will go into the cockpit of the plane and store electronic data related to navigation, communication, maps, charts and weapons systems. The pilot would be able to call on the information as needed. Fairchild estimated its work on the F-22 could total $100 million. The Montgomery County company has about 1,800 employees and posted sales of about $200 million last year.

Martin Marietta is developing an infrared optics systems that would be used by ATF pilots to detect enemy planes and missiles at greater ranges than is possible today.

The Air Force also announced that United Technologies Corp.'s Pratt & Whitney aircraft engine division was awarded a $1.4 billion contract for the production of 33 test engines.

The F-22 is expected to replace the F-15 fighter planes that were widely used in the Persian Gulf war.

In addition to its state-of-the-art electronics, the F-22 is to have the ability to fly at supersonic speeds for extended periods of time without the use of fuel-guzzling afterburners.

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