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The largest U.S. defense operator Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMT - Analyst Report) recently received four contracts from the Department of Defense (DoD). Together these contracts fetched $822.5 million, nearly 76.9% of the total orders awarded by the DoD on Dec 27.

The largest among the four contracts was a $574.5 million order to build the Aegis weapon system for the U.S. Navy. The changing defense landscape makes it essential for the defense establishments to upgrade existing arsenal to meet future challenges. In Aug 2013, the company along with the U.S. Navy successfully tested the Aegis Combat System at sea.

The test showed the increasing interoperability with remote systems proving that the Aegis system can defend beyond its line of sight by integrating data from a remote sensor to intercept a target. This new contract will improve the defensive strength of the Navy.

The combined value of the other three contracts received by Lockheed came to $248 million. In a $116.1 million order, Lockheed is called upon to develop the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center's Space Vehicle 4 (SV-4), and put the same into the launch vehicle.

An $84.6 million contract went to produce the Acoustic Rapid Commercial-Off-The-Shelf Insertion (A-RCI) sonar systems for the Navy while $47.3 million was allocated to support critical air, missile and space defense operations at the NORAD Cheyenne Mountain Complex and other NORAD locations.

The above mentioned contracts reflect the wide range of products and technical expertise at the disposal of Lockheed. The solid performance of the company over the last twelve months is also reflected in its traded price. Lockheed’s share price closed at $148.13 on Dec 27, reflecting a gain of 66.5% over the last twelve-month period.

Apart from Lockheed, defense operator The Boeing Company (BA - Analyst Report) recently received defense contracts worth $661 million from the DoD. Boeing’s share price has also risen 84.1% over the past twelve-month period.

Lockheed currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Other players in the aerospace/defense sector, which look attractive at current levels, include General Dynamics (GD - Analyst Report) and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC - Analyst Report). Both these stocks carry the same Zacks rank as Lockheed.

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