The Times Journal Co., the Springfield-based publisher of three weekly military newspapers and five weekday suburban newspapers, has added a new publication to its arsenal, Defense News.

A weekly tabloid with USA Today-style color and graphics, Defense News will deliver hard news on the $1 trillion defense industry, including coverage of the politics of defense procurement, and late-breaking stories on competition for defense contracts, Strategic Defense Initiative, aerospace and foreign military sales, according to Richard C. Barnard, a veteran defense industry newsman who is the paper's editor.

Barnard, who will head a staff of 12 reporters and editors in Washington and eight around the world, believes Defense News will carve out a niche unfilled by other industry publications. Some publications, such as the Times Journal's own Army Times, Navy Times and Air Force Times, are more highly specialized, while industry newletters and magazines tend to be more general and concentrate less on hard news, he said. The paper grew from an idea by the company's assistant editorial director, Jim Doyle, in February, Barnard added.

With an initial circulation of about 10,000, Defense News is targeting an elite and knowledgeable audience. "Defense News is going to reach people in Washington who make decisions about defense hardware, budget and policy," including members of Congress and their staffs, Pentagon procurement personnel and defense industry leaders, Barnard said. "There are lots of companies that have a message to send to those people."

The paper's small circulation will be more of a blessing than a problem for raising ad revenue, according to Jack Kerrigan, the publisher of Defense News and a former general advertising manager for The Washington Post. With guaranteed delivery to defense-industry procurement people, Defense News has been able to attract all the major defense advertisers, he said, adding that the small circulation also gives the paper the flexibility to have advertising rates that permit a broad range of advertisers.

Defense News, with an annual subscription rate of $65, will begin regular weekly publication on Jan. 20, the company said. Before then, the paper will publish several preview issues, the first of which came off the presses over the weekend.