(Bloomberg) -- U.S. antitrust officials sued to blocked Lockheed Martin Corp.’s planned acquisition of rocket enginemaker Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc. 

The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that the $4.4 billion takeover would harm competition in the defense industry.

“This deal would give Lockheed the ability to cut off other defense contractors from the critical components they need to build competing missiles,” said Holly Vedova, the head of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “Without competitive pressure, Lockheed can jack up the price the U.S. government has to pay, while delivering lower quality and less innovation. 

The deal is an early litmus test for President Joe Biden’s push to take a tougher stance against mergers and combat rising consolidation across the economy. It is the second major merger challenge under FTC Chair Lina Khan, who has vowed to pursue a more aggressive competition agenda.

(Corrects spelling of Aerojet in headline)

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