Lockheed VP retires amidst F-35 criticism

Lockheed VP retires amidst F-35 criticism

The head of Lockheed Martin’s aeronautic unit announced Monday he will retire from the company on April 5. Within his portfolio is the most expensive weapons program in the history of the U.S. military — the Joint Strike Fighter.

Since last September, the military’s top officer heading that program, Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, has gone on the offensive criticizing Lockheed Martin for maintaining a poor relationship with the Pentagon and not taking the steps to control costs and ensure the program’s health over the next 40 years.

However, Lockheed Martin said in a statement that Larry Lawson’s decision to retire was made for personal reasons and had nothing to do with the comments Bogdan has made in the past few months. Marillyn Hewson, the newly appointed CEO and president of Lockheed, has also selected Orlando Carvalho, the head of the the F-35 Lightning II program, to take over for Lawson.

In place of Carvalho, Hewson has selected Lorraine Martin to take over the F-35 program. It’s a natural step up for Martin who is serving as the executive vice president and general manager of the program. Both moves seem unlikely if Lawson was forced out by Lockheed leadership because of Bogdan’s displeasure with the relationship between the F-35 program office and Lockheed Martin.

“Orlando and Lorraine are impressive leaders who have consistently demonstrated their ability to build strong customer relationships, successfully manage complex programs, and inspire our teams,” Hewson said in a statement.

While Bogdan has taken the uncommon step of criticizing a lead defense contractor in public, others have pointed to progress in the F-35 program, albeit modest progress from a low point in a program riddled with cost overruns and missed deadlines.

The Government Accountability Office issued a report in which the investigators wrote that the “current outlook is improved,” however the “long term affordability is a major concern.” The report also highlighted that the F-35 program accomplished seven of its ten “key management objectives” in 2012.

Carvalho and Martin must face the forthcoming challenges of maintaining the program in the midst of the budget cuts brought on by sequestration and the continuing resolution. Despite the F-35’s stature and the priority it receives from the Pentagon, it must still sustain a seven percent cut under sequestration.

Although Lockheed Martin sternly denies Lawson is leaving because of Bogdan’s comments, one defense analyst close to Lockheed officials is not ruling it out. Loren Thompson, an adviser to multiple defense companies and an analyst with the Lexington Institute, wrote Tuesday that Bogdan’s problems with Lockheed Martin had a lot to do with “the attitude he has detected” and less about “the developmental progress” of the program.

He said that attitude shift might have needed to come from the head of the Aeronautics business area.

“Lawson is a smart and forceful leader, very much in the mold of the men who created the modern aerospace industry.  However, he isn’t shy about showing what he knows, and sometimes that can rub customers the wrong way,” Thompson wrote.

Thompson also noted the sweeping leadership changes occurring at Lockheed. As Hewson takes over for long time CEO Bob Stevens, the company will also have five executive vice presidents taking over for major portions of Lockheed’s business.

The promotion of Martin also puts another woman in a major leadership position for a defense company, a recent theme within the defense industry.

As the Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, said March 12, “the fate of the program is in Lockheed’s hands.”

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“Despite the F-35’s stature and the priority it receives from the Pentagon, it must still sustain a seven percent cut under sequestration.”

It should sustain a one hundred percent cut.

Even if it worked — which it does not now, and will not for a long time, and might not ever — it would be costly and useless.

America has to perform a Pacific pivot, and on the other side of the Pacific, there is a genuine peer adversary taking shape. The F-35 doesn’t have the range, or the kinematics, or the signature control to survive a fight in the Pacific with that peer adversary. Even if the F-35 had hit all of its original Key Performance Parameters, many of which have had to be relaxed to accommodate the F-35’s deficiencies, it would still be fatally overmatched by the emerging threat.

This is what happens to programs which take far too long to come to fruition. By the time they’re finally ready, if they’re ever ready, the world will have moved on in a way which renders them of no further relevance.

“As the Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, said March 12, ‘the fate of the program is in Lockheed’s hands.’”

Do not mess with the Frank Kendall. The Frank Kendall has a definite article, and the Frank Kendall isn’t afraid to use it.

There are too many other systems more important, like the B3, SSBNX, and Va class SSGN, to name a couple three. I bet there will be a seriously truncated buy of these things across all service branches. It isn’t like there is going to be 100% success here on out and more and more foreign buyers are bailing or sounding like they are going to, not willing to wait or not willing to take on the risk.

F-35…???…PROOF that even a PORK BARREL of PIGS can fly.…
We could have next-gen F-18’s, 15’s, and 16’s flying NEXT WEEK, and any one of them would make the F-35 look like the SPRUCE GOOSE…
What a TURKEY!
SCRAP the F-35, and INDICT L-M Execs.….

Also, check the FACTS…How many domestic jobs has LM CUT in the last 10 –20 tears…???…

The Navy supposedly tried to get out of the F-35 program, but failed and ended up getting stuck with buying the jet in order to counter cost increases in the others. The CNO practically said that we are buying them so the other models don’t increase in cost. The USN really just wants Super Hornets.

Link: http://​www​.informationdissemination​.net/​2​0​1​3​/​0​3/n

New bimbo, same game. Pay Lockheed more to screw you, and you get screwed. Pay them more to come up with a good airplane on time and on budget and they’ll do that. If you’re not going to fix the procurement system, then buy the airplane just as it is, because the next program will only be worse, that’s one thing that’s guaranteed.

Start polishing the turd again or is it more lipstick for the pig???

At this point the die is cast and the genie (affordability) is out of the bottle. New discoveries in flight testing (yes after 12 years we are still early in the flight test program for SDD) will continue to challege the affordability as retrofits become difficult for the concurrency “production” platforms piling up and the reality of the actual R&M numbers become inescapable.

Watch the government continue to award many contracts to fix these issues and help hide the real program costs is order the prevent scaring the public and potential export customers on the real costs.

As BlackOwl points out, the Navy should grow some appendages and bail on this progrram to save their fleet. They need to accelerate F/A-XX and buy more Supers to pay that bill. F-35 is not the aircraft needed on the CVN to pivot to the Pacific, legs, internal payload, maeuverability, speed etc. are all insuffiecient for the 2028 threats.

The Navy wants something else than the F-35C. The Super Hornet offers a wider range of weps, continued upgradeability, affordability and a contractor that delivers on time and within budget. However, the Super Hornet also suffers from decidedly short legs (only marginally improved in the F-35-C.) The Navy needs to be allowed to leave the JSF program, and immediately the start the development of F/A-XX. If the USAF & Marines want F-35, let them find the money within their own budgets.

Maybe we should think about distributing our ballistic missiles more evenly through the fleet. Make a couple of the new VA’s be armed with a few ICBM’s with the option to drop in a quad-pack of TLAM per tube.

How often are we going to need to ripple-fire 24 ICBM’s from a single sub?

The alternative is if we anticipate a reduced SSBN-X buy, you pack more missiles/sub, but I see that as unlikely as well.

Obviously, you have never seen the incredibly large and complex fire control system that is aboard the SSBNs and is needed to get that missile to the target. Very large in size and complexity

Nope, I haven’t. I will keep that in mind.

Would this be part of it?

The thing is that they don’t really have the money for F/A-XX right now. With sequestration kicking in it has caused many DoD civilians to get furloughed or lose 20% of their pay. Aircraft training has been cut so we are losing skills that are very perishable. Right now the Navy doesn’t have enough money to maintain the status quo. The best option would be to cut the F-35C and buy the upgraded Block III Super Hornet while keeping a follow on fighter in development.

Meanwhile… the USAF has not procured a single operational replacement fighter for retiring F-16s since 1997!

That was because the pre-conceived plan and assumptions were 1) by 2012–2013, the JSF would achieve IOC, 2) there would be a sizable F-22 air superiority force structure replacing F-15C/D and 3) by 2020, the USAF would have already procured 1,300 CTOL variant JSF!

Besides, by 2002 it was absolutely clear that the F-35 would be the bird for the job taking over from F-16s over Iraq and Afghanistan!

Any flawed strategic calculations and prudent decision making seen in the above?

Flat out, regardless of any blunders and deficiencies in the F-35’s development stage to date by LM, the fatal flaw from inception was the inherent and highly speculative business model itself, the unsustainable requirements for Program success and the poor, seemingly non-existent strategic planning.

LM simply cannot fix those flaws no matter how much money is thrown at them or arm-twisting/intimidation done by the Chief.

Blight, our nuclear reduction treaties might also factor into that. I don’t know if it’s number of missiles or number of boats, I’d have to look that up.

” DoD civilians to get furloughed or lose 20% of their pay”

That’s what the furlough is. It’s a loss of work days that equals a 20% pay cut, not an either/or.

The console that is shown is just a tiny piece of a much larger system. Think many cabinets. .
I used to manage the build of the guidance system and worked closely with the Fire Control people.

Block III SH is not production ready by any means. It is a paper design and would need to actually be put together and tested before the real costs and schedule were understood. This includes a FULL test program that just by itself would take YEARS

I read somewhere that the so called 10% sequestration cut is only really a 2.5% cut in real spending. The rest is a cut in baseline budget growth. Only in Washington DC is a cut in budget growth considered a cut in spending. Hell, they haven’t had a budget in the last 6 years, no “free market” business could survive the mismanagement that is routine in DC.

If reliable arrested recovery proves to be the big problem some are expecting, then Navy won’t buy many F-35C. F-35C arresting hook installation is a radical deviation from other designs that have arresting hook installations designed in accordance with MIL-A-18717C.

It remains to be seen, if and how reliably, an F-35C might catch a cross deck pendant with arresting hook while the deck pitches and rolls in adverse higher sea state conditions. If arrested recovery is reliable only in fair weather, Navy won’t buy many.

The upgrades would provide long term benefits since they could be retrofitted to the older Block II Super Hornets currently in use and they would obviously be cheaper than the F-35C. I can’t imagine their development taking more than 3 years at most, unless Boeing screws up in some way, which I highly doubt they would since this is their shot at overtaking Lockheed. The upgrades are also technologically simple and straightforward since they use off the shelf technology.

The glass ****pit display for the Super Hornet is already being developed and tested by Boeing right now and it looks AWESOME. Boeing has also tested using stealthy conformal weapons bays on their Silent Eagle concept and was doing firing tests with AMRAAMs from them in less than 2 years.

The F-35C is scheduled to reach IOC in 2019, which is 6 years out. It’s important to keep in mind that the schedule keeps changing with the F-35C as well. In reality it might reach IOC in 2020 or beyond.


Unless the Navy has plans to keep the Super Hornets as they are, the Navy is going to invest money in upgrading the Hornets anyways. It’s a question of /how much/ they’re going to put in.

Digging into it reveals more about the guidance system on the missiles themselves; though I find sparse information about a SWS Mk 98; which sounds like it fits the bill.

It’s 2.5% if applied across the board to all federal programs, which it is not. Social Security, Medicare and military personnel are exempt this time around. So, it’s about 8% for the rest of the Pentagon programs that aren’t exempted.

So, who can recall whether the F-15, F-16 and F-18 all had similar problems, and were the most expensive planes ever, when they were on deck and just going through their test programs? Come on, be honest…

It’s the Air Force chief of staff that should be submitting his resignation. He should tell the American people he is sorry for throwing tens of billions of dollars down the sewer. They try to scare the American people that if they do not get all the money they want we will be invaded by millions of unknown bad guys. The DOD is one of the biggest problems this country has. They should have even more of their money taken away until they get their act together. They act like children who hold their breath until they get their way. It“s sad and juvenile.

To Guest,

Fair point, but I think what BlackOwl was implying and would advocate, was that USN could scratch F-35C acquisition, procure incrementally-upgraded blocks of the F-18E/F (new buys will already be block II+ incorporating the next-gen Type IV computer opening up new capacities) and then go ahead with a clean-sheet ‘next-gen’ design and development.

For instance, by FY15 there should be no problem procuring a Super Hornet with new c_o_c_k_pit displays (sheesh) and ng computer. Arguably, the plumbing for a future CFT would be a high-priority enhancement option too. And by around FY16-FY17 various Radar/EW performance enhancements could be expected, not to mention possibly the more fuel-efficient engines. So right there, it might not be a full-blown block III being delivered by the 2017–2018 timetable (w/ an internal IRST, MAWS and weapon pod, eg), but the incremental upgrades would still be considerable no matter what they want to give as the block description.

With respect to the IRST, perhaps just stick with a bolt-on system and the same could apply for a future MAWS too… just have Terma (designer of the F-35’s low observable gun pod) design a pod for under-wing integration until a skin-mounted system could be developed? Keep it simple, right?

As far as the follow-on requirement would go, I’d suggest Boeing could propose 2–3 concepts of varying complexity and modernization. Perhaps a poor-mans ‘next-gen’ concept could be as simple as giving the Super Hornet new wings and other modifications (new inlet?) and perhaps a next-gen fluidic thrust vectoring F414 derivative… Just mix with carrier operable VLO UCAV and call it a day.

At the time they were considered very expensive, but really it only took about 5 years to get these designs operational. One of the down sides to the development process in those days was the fact that companies got reimbursed for development expenses, but they did not make a profit on the money they spent. They only made profit on the sales of actual flying aircraft. The defense companies themselves put a huge amount of pressure on engineers of the time to finish design and test as quickly as possible so they could get the airplane into production and make some profit.

One of the things that suffered during that period was innovation. No one wanted to see anything new in a design because they didn’t want new stuff to hold up manufacturing. The other problem of the time was safety. The aircraft were inadequately tested and typically the A model was a death trap. That was definitely true of the F-16. Once the line pilots worked the bugs out of the A model, the subsequent airplanes were usually pretty good, and in-line innovations were the bread and butter of the programs.

Guess what guys? Today the USN admitted that they are seriously considering adding the conformal fuel tanks to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Link: http://​www​.flightglobal​.com/​n​e​w​s​/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​s​/​u​s​-​n​avy

What I find funny is the fact that they said the conformal tanks might cause a decrease in aerodynamic performance for the Super Hornet and that they may need to buy the EPE engines with a 20% increase in thrust to compensate for it. Sounds like they are looking for excuses to buy the other upgrades too. The AMC Type 4 is also being funded for by the USN and it is the exact same computer that the Super Hornet would need for a glass ****pit display.

In other words, the USN has now made significant moves toward three of the upgrades from the International Road Map program. Boeing better be smart about this and start independently funding the development for these immediately so it’s as easy on the USN as possible. The USN is going to have a hard time as it is trying to pull funding away from the F-35 black hole to get this done.

Was I right or what?

Today the USN announced that they might add the conformal fuel tanks to the Super Hornet.

Link: http://​www​.flightglobal​.com/​n​e​w​s​/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​s​/​u​s​-​n​avy

What’s funnier is the fact that they said the conformal tanks might cause a decrease in aerodynamic performance for the Super Hornet and that they may need to buy the EPE engines with a 20% increase in thrust that Boeing is also offering with the International Road Map version. Sounds like they are looking for excuses to buy the other upgrades as well. Boeing better be smart about this and start development funding immediately.

Was I right or what?

Except he didn’t actually retire, just cashed out of Lockheed to become the CEO of Spirit Aerosystems. More money more money more money!

At this point, cancel any new production of F-35s and use a sample of all models produced as test beds for all these advanced systems they can’t seem to get to work including the airframe and use this data as basis for developing a new series of F/As unique to each services need. Too many compromises made on common platform approach, which has morphed in to no longer being a common platform, from 70 / 30 to 30 / 70.

Testing of sample planes should be 24/7 / 365, really shake them out to the edge of the originally planned for flight envelope and then evaluate results and airframes.

In interim from cancellation of F-35 to new F/As, upgrade existing teenager series of planes and A-10s and restart production of F-22 after issues with platform have been found / fixed and these issues designed out of new production series

Interesting. So is that what he meant then, when he said… ‘for personal reasons’?

Hard to imagine they could f up the aero on the F-18 anymore than they already have.

What do you mean? How did Boeing f it up in the first place?

Now replace the two f’d up wing tanks with the CFT and the aero is instantly IMPROVED, as well as the cruise SPEED! That’s the point. The CFT would enable roughly the equivalent range as the dirty Super with toed out Tanks, all for less consumed gas per annum, per aircraft!

Based on economics alone, it’s a no-brainer. Tactically, it opens up much greater flexibility and additional options.

F35 Star Wars dreams for the AF. Lockheed seems to be running the DOD.

It’s not really Boeing’s fault, it actually goes back to the YF-17 proposed by Northrop, but there’s a reason the F-18 never launches off a carrier without needing to tank before it goes anywhere.

Well, if anything these conformal fuel tanks will still be a step in the right direction to solving that problem.

I agree! :) And that being said… I’d further like to see Northrop Grumman + Boeing design a similar sleek CFT for the F-15E+. If they could get even around 600 USgal total in such a tactical CFT config, they could unload the draggy side bags, add a centerline tank and within around 3–4 hrs or so, the jet would instantly transform into a fairly potent, modern air defense/air-superiority fighter.

Yes, all those jets had problems to solve during development and early production. It is arguable that, say, the F-18, is still dealing with some problems operationally. However, I ask you to research the development of the others and honestly compare it to the F-35. My recollection is that the F-35 has had more performance setbacks than any of the jets you mention, and more setbacks than some famous flops that were cancelled. Furthermore, the F-35 was touted as a low risk way to reconstitute the worlds air forces with something that reverses the cost trend while maintaining military effectiveness. It has absolutely failed in achieving that goal. Even if all the gee whiz systems can be made to work and production rates are increased, it is likely the actual cost will be about a factor of 2 of the advertised number. Yet,officially, the total planned buy is still in the thousands of jets. Figure out how many other worthy military items must be sacrificed because the F-35 is sucking an unexpected $10 billion a year. I don’t know how to fix it, but I must challenge the notion that the F-35 development problems are typical. They are absolutely in a category all their own…and for what?

The wider you make them, the more air they have to push out of the way.

LAWSON was on the job a long time. He travelled the world over working on LM issues. His family probably didn’t know who he was for the few days a year he was home. So “retiring” isn’t a bad thing for him or his family. If indeed there was perceived friction between customer and contractor, it’s the contractor who takes it on the chin. In my 30 years in aerospace, I’ve seen many people be forced out of their positions, at all levels of the companies, because the military decided to no longer work with the individual. He who pays the bills gets to decide. “The customer is always right.”

The CFT do not ‘widen’ the Super!

Have you seen the prototype design?

They can efficiently replace the larger outward-toed EFT tanks (allowing for less annual fuel consumption vs a CFT config) — External tanks which INCREASE drag and increase the air that must be pushed out of the way!

Thanks for your service, sir.

The wider you make them, the more lift they produce as well.

I wanted to like this program, I specifically am pro the navy variant although I guess the pentegon thinks the airforce variant is the most important. Well to keep costs low, high numbers have to be ordered and hence the airforce needs to be in. However from a standpoint of force projection the navy sorely needs the f-35c variant more than any other entity needs this plane! The superhornet is just a bandaid. An upgraded engined superhornet is nipping at the heals of the f-35c but the f-35 is still a lot better suited to future navy attack. All this being said the program is shaping up to be a train wreck on down the line. Lockheed is just a shell of what it used to be, although so is America and its purposely weakened currency!

Fix the bugs and prove the dissenters wrong! I don’t envy LM or for that matter any defense company, inspite of how bloated the federal gov’t has become, there is no common sense in military spending from congress!

F-15 still has some life left. That superhornet is more of a turkey than the F-35, unless some new-fangled anti-grav system can be fitted to it. Just compare the engine of an f-15 to the cans on the f-18, no way in hell the superhornet will ever achieve thrust parity with an F-15 I don’t care how fancy the EPE engine will be. The Navy is royally screwed because its true the F-35 will be dead meat in a battle against PacRim threats, but so will the supersluggishbug. Gotta wonder if its possible to pull f-14s back to the decks! I know the old wiring and avionics systems are a mess. I think it be cheaper to redesign the avionics hardware of the F-14B/D than continue with the f-35. I know the F-14 manuverability is also not that great, but its got range and power/speed comparable to current Chinese fighters. I hate the UCAV idea but its probably the Navy’s only air defence asset suitable to any future Pacific war!

I agree cost alone, this program is a failure! A Cesna light jet is popular due mainly to affordability of use, its effiecent! If a Cesna’s cost started to equal a Gulfstream, the Cesna no matter how well it flew performace-wise is still a lot less than a Gulfstream and therefore would be a failure!


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