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Call for F-22s to Israel boosts Lockheed martin 

Unlike other measures undertaken in the waning days of the Clinton administration, one should pass Dubya's muster straightaway: A recommendation by then-President Clinton that Israel be the first foreign nation to purchase the still-in-development F-22 Raptor fighter.

That's good news for Lockheed Martin, which holds much of the contract for the plane and recently announced plans to cut 675 jobs at its Marietta plant. Although Lockheed spokesman Greg Caires welcomes Clinton's call, he sees little hope for reversing the layoffs.

Pointing to cost overruns that have driven the tab to some $84 million per plane, congressional critics almost killed the Raptor program in 1999. But Clinton and Georgia's congressional delegation launched a bipartisan effort to save it.

Caires notes that Lockheed also has "historically warm relations" with the new president's home state. But Lockheed is banking on more than good feelings: According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the company gave more than $800,000 in "soft" campaign contributions to both political parties from December 1999 through June 2000 -- most of it to the GOP.

Critics such as Luke Warren with the Conventional Arms Transfer Project, lament Clinton's call. "Mr. Clinton has now put the United States in an arms race with itself," he says. If Israel gets the F-22, "Saudi Arabia [might] be next in line."

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