General Takes Lockheed to Task Over F-35

Deputy head of fighter program unloads on government's largest contractor.

Dan Carroll
Dan Carroll
Sep 18, 2012 at 12:00AM

The hits keep coming for Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT).

Maj. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, deputy chief of the Pentagon's F-35 fighter program, unloaded Monday on the company's progress on the jet. Bogdan referred to the government's connection with Lockheed as the "worst I've ever seen" and pronounced the tensions between the two parties to be a larger threat to the fighter program than the ongoing technical problems and mounting costs detailed in a Sept. 7 Pentagon review, according to a Reuters report.

Bogdan reportedly said he would not ask for more congressional funding for the F-35's $396 billion program apart from already committed funds. On the job for five weeks and in line to head the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter effort, Bogdan declined to detail changes he looked to make in the fighter's progress, according to a Bloomberg report.

Bloomberg quoted a Lockheed spokesman as saying: “We remain committed to continuing our work to solve program challenges and build on the momentum and success we’ve achieved during the past couple of years."

Bogdan expressed "reasonable confidence" in the success of the current program. Problematic issues with the craft's data-integrating helmet have plagued Lockheed Martin recently, along with a Pentagon demand for thousands of pages of cost data that company CEO Robert Stevens publicly blamed for delayed contract negotiations.

The recent setbacks come after glimpses of hope over the past year for the maligned fighter jet. Lockheed had seemed to finally turn the corner with the aircraft after delivering numerous operational craft to the Air Force and securing interest from a number of foreign governments.