May 9, 1999 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Israel is pressing Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. to lower price offers in last-minute haggling over a multibillion dollar fighter aircraft contract that could be awarded this week.
Top Israeli defense officials will meet Thursday to choose between the two U.S. defense firms in a tender launched 18 months ago, but could defer the matter until after Israel
's May 17 general election. Boeing and Lockheed sources said the companies had given Israel their final offers but were facing heavy pressure to revise them downward.
One source involved in the negotiations said Israel was exploiting reports that at least one of the companies could be forced to shut production lines if it loses the tender. The defense ministry seems to be conducting the most brutal negotiation in its history in an effort to bring down the prices.