AVIATION: Sweet Sixteen

When four European NATO countries formed a consortium last year to buy 350 new lightweight fighter planes, a stiff competition ensued for what was quickly dubbed the "arms contract of the century." Last week the Defense Ministers of Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands and Norway announced jointly that the best and least expensive contender for the prize was the $6 million American-built F16, designed and manufactured by General Dynamics Corp., the largest defense contractor in the U.S. Final approval by the four governments, expected by mid-May, will mean about $2.1 billion in sales...

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