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US Defense Contractors Balance Profits With National Security


The Paris Air Show is one of the most extensive displays of aviation and aerospace in the world. The commercial aircraft industry comes to sell the latest technology to anyone who can afford it. But as VOA Brian Padden reports, U.S. defense contractors must balance making profits with maintaining national security.

At the Paris Air Show, crowds can get a close up look at a U.S. Air Force cargo plane. They can also see some of the latest in military technology such as the Global Hawk reconnaissance drone. The drone captures high-resolution images and can fly for 36 hours non-stop. It is made by U.S. Defense contractor Northrup Grumman.

Edward Walby is the company's director of business development for the Global Hawk. He says there are also U.S. adversaries here trying to steal military secrets. "This is a favorite spot to find out what is the next step in U.S. technology."

Walby says the company follows strict U.S. government requirements for what the company can display and to whom it is allowed to sell. "It's frustrating, but [for] a company like Northrop Grumman, I've been with it for four years. I'm retired Air Force. I have never been in a meeting where sales outstripped our motive in terms of national security."

For America's allies there is more information sharing than ever before. The new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was developed in collaboration with the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy.

U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Michael Lindauer says, even on the technical level, cooperation among allies is the key to winning the global war on terrorism.

"We work closely with our allies and partners to make sure the systems they buy, if they don't originate with the United States, that they still work alongside of and collectively with the assets of the Unites States and our other partners."

These days it can be hard to differentiate friend from foe. Lieutenant Colonel Lindauer says Russia is not considered a U.S. ally or an adversary, but China is viewed as a potential adversary. Both countries are also at the Paris Air Show promoting their own military technology.

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