* Rocket mail.

Not every PC vendor in the federal market develops a marketing campaign that gains the instant attention of a four-star general. Raytheon did so last month with a mailing designed to convey in a dramatic way its acquisition of the former Hughes Data Systems and the Air Force Desktop V PC contract.

Raytheon/Hughes marketing executives decided to send to potential Desktop V buyers at all Air Force bases a rocket-like mailing tube stuffed with product literature and emblazoned with the new name. The top of the tube contained a sound chip— activated by opening the tube— that sounded off: ''five, four, three, two, one'' followed by the sound of a rocket blasting off, signifying the start of the new Raytheon Desktop V era.

The mailing, I'm told, included 50 tubes sent to the Air Force Materiel Command, which is headed by four-star Gen. Walter Kross at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. One of the tubes fell on the floor of the AMC HQ, and a worker stepped on it, starting what seemed to be an ominous ''five, four, three...'' countdown. Fearing a bomb, the mail room personnel alerted security, which ordered the evacuation of the AMC HQ, including Kross.

AMC, I'm told, called in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, which sent an Air Force-wide message that called the tubes ''probably harmless'' but nonetheless ordered their destruction.

Raytheon/Hughes executives refuse to discuss this snafu, which already has assumed near-legend status in the federal PC vendor community. One rival vendor said that, in its own way, the Raytheon rocket had as much of an impact on its limited market as Apple Computer Inc.'s famed 1980 ''Big Brother'' Super Bowl commercial. A Raytheon spokesman said the company was "embarrassed" by the incident, and it has sent letters of apology to the Air Force.

* Tanks a lot.

That is what's in store for SESer Kevin Carroll, director of the Cecom Acquisition Center-Washington. Carroll's stellar pinch-hitting over the last year as acting director of the Cecom acquisition operation at Fort Monmouth, N.J., caught the attention of Gen. Johnnie Wilson, commander of the Army Materiel Command, which is Cecom's parent command. Wilson, I'm told, wants to install Carroll as the overall AMC acquisition oversight czar, which means Carroll would move from an operation focused on small computers to a command that buys the heaviest iron in the Army, including tanks and missiles. Wilson wants to tap Carroll's electronic purchasing expertise, making one wonder if we'll soon see electronic BPAs for tanks.

* Logmod loser?

My very busy Fort Monmouth antenna site has picked up signals that the TRW Inc./BDM team bidding on the Army's $1 billion Cecom-managed Logistics Modernization program did not make the first cut, leaving a sizable pool of bidders that includes Boeing Co., Computer Sciences Corp., Electronic Data Systems Corp., Litton/PRC Inc., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon.


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