Aircraft: Cheaper - and Better

Cheaper -- and Better

"Extraordinary, unique!" Attorney General Dick Thornburgh exclaimed of the drug-fighting airplane proudly displayed last week by the U.S. Customs Service. A dazzling new aircraft? No. It was a used Lockheed P-3 Orion, designed in the 1950s. The $31 million turboprop has just one major innovation: a 360 degrees radar dome capable of spotting smugglers' low-flying planes as effectively as the $48 million Grumman E-2C Hawkeye, which Customs had been using. The Lockheed can stay aloft twelve hours -- three times as long as the Hawkeye, which must refuel after four hours.

Customs could have had its plane sooner, but for more...

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