In the early 1990s, a wealthy businesswoman, Judith DePaul, and her company IBP Aerospace negotiated an agreement with Tupolev and NASA, (also Rockwell and later Boeing). They offered a Tu-144 as a testbed for its High Speed Commercial Research program, intended to design a second-generation supersonic jetliner called the High Speed Civil Transport. In 1995, Tu-144D [reg 77114] built in 1981 (but with only 82 hours and 40 minutes total flight time) was taken out of storage and after extensive modification at a total cost of US$350 million was designated the Tu-144LL (Russian: Летающая Лаборатория — where LL is an abbreviation for Flying Laboratory). It made a total of 27 flights in 1996 and 1997. In 1999, though regarded as a technical success, the project was cancelled for lack of funding.
Russia has already benefited from the Krypton deal. In 1999, Russia negotiated billion dollar arms sales to both India and China for the newly improved Krypton. In fact, according to the new Russian weapons pact with Beijing, China will manufacture and export the improved Krypton under license to the Middle East and Asia.
There is a more direct link to Russian weapons and Al Gore. That link centers on a now defunct company named IBP Aerospace run by Judith DePaul. Ms. De Paul, a known Gore supporter and native of Connecticut, set up the international arms firm, basing her operations in London and Washington. Ms. De Paul has refused to be interviewed.
In 1995 Gore supporter Judith De Paul, and her company IBP International started doing deals with Moscow at the highest levels. Despite being a newcomer in aerospace, IBP quickly signed several deals with Moscow and Washington. In March 1996, IBP successfully lobbied NASA to lease the "Concordsky" Tu-144 super sonic airliner from Russian bomber maker Tupolev. NASA, according to the contract, was to use the Tu-144 for test flights.
NASA actually published an official photograph of the TU-144 deal. The photograph of U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Thomas J. Pickering, addressing a crowd of Tupolev employees and international media, was taken at the roll out of the newly modified super sonic . IBP Aerospace owner Judith De Paul can be seen on the left next to the Russian Army officer.
The NASA contract also involved other familiar names in the Missile-Gate scandal. The nose of the TU-144 can be seen in the background of the NASA photograph of the 1996 event. The Russian plane is painted with the U.S. subcontractor logos selected by the Clinton-Gore administration including IBP Aerospace, Boeing and McDonnell Douglas.
Another contract Moscow signed with Ms. De Paul involved a critical part of virtually every Russian jet fighter. IBP Aerospace also became the prime American representative for the Russian K-36 jet fighter ejection seat. The K-36 seat equips virtually all Russian and Chinese fighters such as the SU-27 and MiG-29 Fulcrum.
In 1996, IBP obtained a U.S. Air Force study contract to keep the former Soviet manufacturer from going out of business, sending millions of dollars to the Russian seat maker. However, efforts to sell the seat to the western market were less than successful. In 1996, IBP was unable to convince NASA that the huge Russian K-36 ejection seat could fit into the tiny NASA T-38 Astronaut trainer jets. After failing to sell the K-36 seat to NASA, the IBP lobby effort continued in 1999 with the members of the Clinton administration suggesting that the K-36 Russian ejector seat could be installed in the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor or the new Joint Strike Fighter.