- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 19, 2003

Lockheed Martin Corp. signed a contract yesterday to sell $3.5 billion worth of fighter planes to Poland, the largest military order by a former Soviet bloc country since the end of the Cold War.
Lockheed, based in Bethesda and the largest defense contractor in the United States, also committed to investing at least $6 billion in Poland.
The contract for 48 F-16 fighter planes, called the "deal of the century" by local Polish news media, pitted Lockheed against two European-based groups for the biggest defense contract by an former Soviet bloc country.
"This agreement helps establish a new quality in Polish-U.S. relations. It will set the stage for a further deepening of our strategic partnership in security and the economy," Christopher R. Hill, U.S. ambassador to Poland, said at a ceremony where the contracts were signed.
The deal is a windfall for Lockheed. The company plans to manufacture the 48 aircraft in Fort Worth, Texas, and deliver them to Poland from 2006 to 2008.
"It's a great day for Poland, for the U.S. government and for Lockheed Martin," said George Standridge, Lockheed's campaign director to sell Poland the jets.
Lockheed's F-16 beat out the French-made Mirage 2000 and a British-Swedish group selling the Gripen jet.
Poland, which signed an accession treaty to join the 15-nation European Union on Wednesday, chose the American company with the promise of a low-interest U.S. government loan to pay for the jets and the $6 billion in so-called offset investments.
Pending a referendum, Poland would become an EU member May 1, 2004, with nine other countries.
Poland's government has sided with the United States on its Iraq policy, despite pressure from France, one of the European Union's biggest members.
A NATO member since 1999, Poland selected the U.S. fighters in December to replace Soviet-era aircraft.
The two sides took several months to finalize contracts. The agreement for more than $6 billion in U.S. investments in defense and civilian companies dragged out the process.
"We plan to exceed that [$6 billion] by a substantial amount to make sure we achieve our objectives," Mr. Standridge said from Warsaw.
A list of 43 projects includes commitments by U.S. companies to build engines for the 48 jets at a Pratt & Whitney plant in southern Poland, modernize a refinery in the northern city of Gdansk, expand a General Motors Corp. plant, and work with telecommunications and high-tech companies to create a Poland-wide 911 system, Mr. Standridge said.
The projects, which run over 10 years, are expected to help create jobs and lift Poland's economy.
"We believe we are going to be able to double the overall level of American investment in Poland" through the offset agreements, Mr. Hill said.
According to the Polish Agency for Foreign Investment, foreign companies invested almost $6.1 billion in Poland last year.
The agency said that U.S.-based companies were responsible for $887 million of that investment.
Workers at the Fort Worth plant where Lockheed Martin makes the F-16 and parts for the F/A-22 fighters have been on strike since Monday, after union members turned down a contract offer.
About 4,000 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace as of yesterday were not scheduled to meet with management.
Lockheed Martin said the plant employs 15,000 workers and that the company is trying to maintain production with nonunion employees.
The company is scheduled to release its first-quarter earnings report Tuesday.
Last year Lockheed Martin posted net income of $500 million ($1.11 per diluted share) on net sales of $26.6 billion.
In 2001, the company had a loss of $1 billion ($2.42) on net sales of $24 billion.
Diluted shares reflect the value of options, warrants and other securities.
The company's stock closed at $45.36 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. U.S. markets were closed yesterday in observance of Good Friday.

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