The error in a crucial clause in an international sales contract was a comma in a set of figures. It was moved accidentally by one decimal point.
The client insisted Lockheed honoured its contract to the letter and the defence group was left nursing the multi-million loss.
James Blackwell, president of Lockheed's aeronautics division, was quoted as saying: "That comma cost Lockheed 70 million dollars." The deal was for an order for Lockheed's latest version of the Hercules transport plane used by air forces around the world. While the identity of the client was not revealed only three non-US governments have placed contracts for the new Hercules - Australia, Italy and Britain.
A spokesman for Lockheed declined to comment on the report, adding that Mr Blackwell was "in the air right now" and could not be contacted.
Lockheed Martin reported total profits for 1998 of around $1bn (pounds 625m).Reuse content