Once upon a time, an American president predicted a marriage of sorts between America's political class and its military-industrial complex. But as with so many wedded couples, we learned this week that there's ...

Trouble in paradise
You may not have heard, but over in Paris, there's a shindig going on as airplane makers from around the globe hobnob and shop their wares to willing buyers. One plane-maker in particular is pulling out the stops on its sales palaver: Boeing (NYSE:BA).

Ever since losing twin competitions to build the Pentagon's fifth-generation fighters, the F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor, to Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), Boeing's been nursing hurt feelings. Seems any time the Pentagon talks about the future of fighter jets (even in the negative sense), the only plane it thinks of is Lockheed's Lightning II. That's good news for Lockheed, and for F-35 engine suppliers General Electric (NYSE:GE) and United Tech (NYSE:UTX), but it makes Boeing mad.

"Mad" in both senses of the word, I'm afraid. Boeing wants to sell as many of its own jets as possible before Lockheed's F-35 starts locking up sales. Problem is, in promoting its F-15 "Silent Eagle," Boeing's also casting aspersions upon Lockheed's Lightning.

To hear Boeing tell it, the Silent Eagle not only costs less than the Lightning, but offers "from a front-radar cross-section... all the stealth that has been approved for export by the U.S. government." Simultaneously, Boeing dismisses the Lightning being marketed in Paris as a "dumbed-down" export version of the plane. The implication is that foreign buyers of the F-35 are overpaying for shoddy merchandise.

Oh no they di-int!
Oh, yes, they did. Boeing dissed the F-35, and while Lockheed's so far "playing it classy" and ignoring Boeing's trash talk, the Pentagon isn't. Brigadier Gen. David Heinz -- the officer in charge of the F-35 program at the Pentagon -- took the bait yesterday and blasted back, "categorically" denying that the export F-35 variant differed from the U.S. model.

And your mama wears combat boots
What's more, while Boeing may be right about the Silent Eagle's stealth characteristics when viewed head-on, Heinz confides: "the second he turns, he looks just like the Goodyear blimp."

So far, all Boeing's attempt at sales puffery has won it is a public smackdown from its most important customer. Was that smart? Maybe, if Boeing manages to ink enough F-15 contracts this week ...

But I doubt it.

Looking to get your own eye-in-the-sky-view of the defense investments? Take Motley Fool Rule Breakers for a whirl, and join us in our quest to find winning investments in everything from UAVs to spaceships to bomb-proof trucks to bulletproof soldiers. Thirty-day free trials are available on-demand.

Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares of Boeing. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.