Wash. (AP) – The NASDAQ index soared more than 400 points at
the opening today on news that the Pentagon has entered into a contract
with R H Research, Inc., of Edmonds, Washington, to procure a completely
new type of weaponry. The agreement calls for $77.1 billion to be
spent during an initial five-year R&D period. Actual procurement
and deployment are expected to bring RH an additional $95.8 billion,
and the follow-on business for maintenance and a series of upgraded
models could yield some $245 billion over the next 25-30 years,
plus additional amounts for completion of engineering change orders.
In Bethesda, Maryland, a consortium composed of Lockheed Martin
and the Boeing Company expressed disappointment at the Pentagon's
selection of RH as prime contractor for the massive project. According
to spokesman Kenneth Killdear, the consortium has invested more
than $6 billion in preliminary research to demonstrate the feasibility
of a new generation of space-based, laser-guided, hydrogen-powered,
kinetic-energy, multi-purpose munitions to be used in a scenario
code-named Operation Armageddon. Said Killdear, "We expect
to urge our friends in Congress to do whatever they can to bring
about a reconsideration of DoD's deal with RH. We have grave doubts
about RH's ability to deliver the goods on time and at cost."
When asked about Lockheed and Boeing's own record of cost overruns
and schedule slippages, Killdear had no comment.
Other defense contractors also expressed misgivings about the Defense
Department's decision. In Falls Church, Virginia, a spokesman for
General Dynamics, Rear Admiral (ret.) Rocky Waters, declared at
a press conference that "RH has no track record in the defense
industry, and our country cannot risk its security by doing business
with fly-by-night firms in places that lack reserved airport parking
spaces for members of Congress." In Lexington, Mass., Raytheon
spokeswoman Estella Bright reacted angrily to news of the industry
upstart's Pentagon bonanza. "I don't know any other way to
put it," she said. "This means war."
At R H Research, Inc., headquarters in Edmonds, president and sole
shareholder Robert (Buck) Higgs expressed satisfaction with finalization
of the agreement. "This is the realization of a dream,"
he said. "I invested more than a decade of my life stalking
Donald Rumsfeld. I know where he's gone, and I know what he's done;
and now all my hard work has finally paid off." Queried about
the ability of a small one-person (Chapter S) corporation to carry
out the massive project, Higgs said he had complete confidence that
RH would be able to cash checks as well as Lockheed or Boeing. "Once
those advance and progress payments begin to roll in," he insisted,
"I'll show you the kind of technological miracle that hasn't
been witnessed since the explosion of the Challenger."
Although RH will rely on completely novel technology, much of which
remains classified, Higgs revealed that the awesome power of the
new weapons derives from harnessing the energy of fruit. "Here
in Washington state," he said, "we have had more than
a century of experience with apples, pears, peaches, nectarines,
cherries, and a variety of berries. Therefore, it was only natural
that we would be the first to discover that fruits contain, in their
pits, a form of energy far more powerful than that of atomic fission
or fusion." Although his experiments are not yet complete,
Higgs insisted that once he had succeeded in "splitting the
pit," the world would be astonished. "I foresee the day
when a single peach bomb will have greater explosive power than
all the nuclear weapons ever built."
With the peach bomb perfected, "very little additional development"
would be required to produce, for use in constricted theaters of
operation, the cherry bomb. Follow-on work would give rise to an
apple howitzer shell, a pear mortar shell, and a nectarine-rocket
bazooka able to penetrate the armor of any tank now in the field.
Anti-personnel "blueberry bomblets" would follow shortly.
Higgs foresees that ultimately the armed forces will be equipped
with a fully color-coded arsenal suitable to use by illiterate soldiers,
allowing military recruiters to tap the human resources of recent
graduates of public schools. "It used to be that soldiers had
to know the "up" from the "down" written on
an ammo crate. With my system, they need only be able to tell the
difference between a Golden Delicious and a Granny Smith."
In eastern Washington, where unemployment rates have been relatively
high in recent years, fruit growers expressed cautious optimism.
The Chamber of Commerce of Yakima, Washington, issued a brief statement:
"Anything that provides jobs for our young people is a godsend.
We also welcome the opportunity to do our part in advancing the
technology of death and destruction. If President George (Shrub)
Bush should give the order to blow Beijing to smithereens with one
of our Jonathans, our fructose-filled hearts would surely swell
with pride." Governor Gary Locke, recently reelected Democrat,
said "this is no time to split hairs about human rights to
life." He saw "absolutely no downside" to the subcontracts
certain to spill across the area stretching from Pasco, near the
Hanford Nuclear Reservation, in the south to the Okanogan Valley,
spanning the U.S.-Canada border, in the north. "We need the
jobs badly in this area," he said. "If we must create
those jobs by risking the fate of humanity, well, it won't be the
first time we've done that in this state."