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Friday, 25 October, 2002, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
Lockheed profits take off
The F-16 is the workhorse of many airforces
US defence giant Lockheed Martin has turned in sharply higher profits, crediting strong sales of fighter jet equipment.

Lockheed, maker of the iconic F16 fighter jet, said profits for the three months to September rose to $290m (186m), 36% up on the same period last year.

Sales climbed to $6.5bn from $6.2bn a year earlier.

The figures, which were in line with analysts' forecasts, suggested that the firm has bounced back convincingly, after reporting a $1.5bn loss during the final three months of 2001.

Pension pressure

That loss reflected one-off costs stemming from Lockheed's decision to pull out of the telecommunications business.

The firm had moved into the telecoms sector during the late 1990s, acquiring stakes in satellite network operators and other related businesses.

However, the firm warned on Friday that it would hit its 2003 profit targets only if returns on its pension fund investments picked up.

Lockheed's pension fund returns, like those of many other blue-chip companies, have been hit hard by the recent stock market slump.

Jet upgrade

Lockheed pulled off a coup earlier this year, clinching a contract to service F16 jets flown by 16 foreign air forces.

The contract is worth about $12.7bn over 23 years.

The firm is also developing the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is expected to replace the US air force's entire jet fighter fleet over the next 40 years.

See also:

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