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Fair Trade? U.S. Nearly Swapped F-16s for Frozen Chicken

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​Reuters released a special report last week about how post-Cold War diplomats were put to work advocating for U.S. business interests abroad, at times straddling the line between being diplomats and hucksters.

Case in point: American company Lockheed Martin wanted to unload some F-16 fighter jets to Thailand's government...

In 2005, the Thai government started shopping for new military fighter jets among Lockheed Martin, Russia's Sukhoi and Sweden's Saab. It made clear up front that any deal it signed had to include "countertrade" worth at least 50 percent of the deal's value -- we buy X and you help us sell Y.

For the embassy in Bangkok, winning achieved two goals: helping Lockheed and keeping the Russians from selling planes. There was, however, a small complication with the terms -- the Thai government didn't want to pay cash. Instead, it proposed trading 80,000 stockpiled tons of frozen chicken.

Despite talks, Lockheed Martin declined the chicken offer.

How big is 80,000 tons of poultry?

The average dressed, raw chicken weighs four pounds.

The average Lockheed Martin F-16 weighs 42,300 pounds.

That means you'd need about 3,783 bad-ass fighter jets to equal the weight of 80,000 tons of chickens (which, at four pounds per, amounts to 40 million birds).

Seems like a fair trade.

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