2 Firms Reportedly to Lead Missile Shield Team


Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. are set to co-lead a new industrywide team in the multibillion-dollar U.S. drive to build missile shields, industry officials said Friday.

As co-heads of the national team being shaped by the Pentagon, the two biggest military contractors would have key roles in meshing the dozen or so existing missile defense programs.

Chicago-based Boeing would take the lead in defining the architecture of a planned multilayered shield that could involve systems based on land, ships, in space and on modified Boeing 747 aircraft, industry executives said.

Lockheed, of Bethesda, Md., would put the overlapping systems to work through integrated battle-management and command-and-control software.

President Bush signed into law Thursday a $317.2-billion defense funding bill that includes $8 billion for missile defense development to meet what he has argued is the growing threat of ballistic missile attack from North Korea, Iran, Iraq or other "rogue" states.

Contract negotiations are underway, with an official announcement expected in the next month.

A Lockheed spokesman would not comment, and a Boeing spokeswoman said the reorganization was still underway.

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