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Lockheed Martin awarded $716 million contract

/ Source: The Associated Press

The Pentagon has awarded Lockheed Martin Corp.'s aeronautics unit two contracts valued at a combined $716 million for continued work on the F/A-22 stealth fighter plane.

The F/A-22 Raptor, which has been in development since the 1980s as a next-generation replacement for the Air Force F-15 fighter, is the most expensive fighter program in history, at $72 billion.

Pentagon officials said this week that the program may be scaled back as part of a budget-savings move. A defense trade publication, InsideDefense.com, reported Thursday that Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, signed a budget document on Dec. 23 that proposes completing the F/A-22 program in 2008 after 180 are procured, rather than buying 277 as now planned.

A Lockheed Martin spokesman, Joe Quimby, said Friday the company has not been notified by the Defense Department or the Air Force of any changes to the program.

In its announcement late Thursday, the Pentagon said the $108 million and $608 million contracts are for production support and other activities related to production of the next batch of planes. Lockheed Martin is under contract to produce up to 24 F/A-22s by next May. It already has delivered 36.

"These are usual funding extension contracts," Quimby said.