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Boeing, the nation's largest commercial aircraft manufacturer, is talking merger with McDonnell Douglas, the leading builder of military aircraft, according to the Wall Street Journal. The firms have combined sales of some $35 billion. Industry analysts say a full merger is unlikely, in part because the combined entity could have a large enough share of the world market to face an anti-trust challenge. But consolidation could occur in their defense operations, where Boeing wants an increased presence and McDonnell Douglas seeks to reduce costs in an era of reduced defense spending. "McDonnell has been hit hard by defense cutbacks," says TIME's Janice Castro. "Forming a partnership of some kind with Boeing, which has profited from the global expansion of commercial airlines and the replacement of aging commercial fleets, may be the best way McDonnell's military aircraft manufacturing base can be strengthened while keeping that critical technology in American hands."