Even with the $578-billion defense budget approved by the House and Senate (and signed by President Bush on Oct. 14—see p. 10), there was an unmistakable air of trepidation at this year’s Assn. of the U.S. Army conference. With a coming change in administration and near-certainty that future defense budgets will decrease—even before the financial crisis—plans for any future Army systems, whether workaday trucks or giant vertical-lift aircraft, are uncertain. Executives at companies large ...

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