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General Dynamics


A major reorganization in 1961 resulted in General Dynamics' 12 operating divisions being divided into two major groups. On the aerospace side, the Western Group contained components of the Convair division, which itself had originated in 1923 as the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation, merging in 1943 with Vultee Aircraft Inc. to form Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation. Before this, Consolidated had taken over two other aircraft companies, Thomas Morse and Hall Aluminium. In 1954 Consolidated Vultee merged with the General Dynamics Corporation to become the Convair Division, at which time the CV-880 and -990 jet transports were in production, together with F-102 and F-106 fighters, and the B-58 Hustler was at an advanced stage to provide the USAF with its first supersonic bomber (first flown November 1956). Two USAF wings eventually flew B-58As.


In December 1964 the first flight took place of the F- 111, a variable-geometry tactical fighter-bomber which entered USAF operational service from 1968, followed by the FB-111A strategic bomber variant which replaced B- 58As from 1970. In January (officially February) 1974 the first flight took place of the F-16 lightweight fighter for the USAF; selected for engineering and manufacturing development in 1975, but with ground-attack options and provision for radar and navigation avionics suited to all-weather operations. Chosen also for service by European air forces, with European assembly, F-16 deliveries began 1979 (nearly 4,000 delivered by 1999 to many forces worldwide). Light aircraft manufacturer Cessna bought in 1985, but sold to Textron in 1992. The Tactical Military Aircraft division of General Dynamics was bought by Lockheed Corporation in March 1993, becoming Lockheed Fort Worth Company; taking over programs including F-16 and the General Dynamics share in the F-22 (previously a program of three manufacturers: General Dynamics, Lockheed, and Boeing).


General Dynamics acquired Cessna in 1985 but in 1992 sold the company to Textron.


Defense giant General Dynamics bought the business jet maker Gulfstream Aerospace in a stock deal estimated to be worth about $5.3 billion in 1999.

 


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