As negotiations to avoid a year-end “fiscal cliff” drag on, some defense industry executives have begun to acknowledge that avoiding significant cuts to weapons programs may be impossible over the long term.

The industry has argued that the cuts would force them to lay off workers and reduce spending on innovative research. But with less than a month to go, there is growing acceptance that even if the defense industry can avert the most severe form of cuts, contractors that provide weapons and services are unlikely to emerge unscathed.

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