Giving Away the Weapons Store

The proposed sale of a troubled defense contractor to the French triggers an argument over America's security needs

AMERICANS WINCE WHEN SOMEthing distinctly "American," like California beachfront or Rockefeller Center, is bought by foreigners. But an April 10 decision by a federal bankruptcy court in New York to allow the sale of the Texas-based LTV Aerospace and Defense Co. to Thomson-CSF, whose principal stockholder is the French government, raised questions far more vexing than matters of mere national pride. About 75% of LTV's products are defense- related, including such advanced systems as the Multiple Launch Rocket System and the B-2 Stealth bomber. French ownership would effectively guarantee French acquisition of LTV's classified American defense technology.

On the other hand,...

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