Control of the multinational, multi-service program toggles between Navy and Air Force leaders. If a Navy official is serving as program manager, then an Air Force official holds the top acquisition post, and vice versa.
Bogdan made headlines in September at the annual Air Force Association conference when he said relations between Lockheed and the U.S. government were the “worst I’ve ever seen.”
He criticized Lockheed’s performance on the $396 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but also took aim at the Pentagon’s own handling of the program. Last week the Pentagon moved to open the operations and maintenance of the new fighter to competition from other companies.
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter quickly endorsed Bogdan’s remarks, but Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week assured reporters that the two sides were not at a dead end and said he was confident they would ultimately reach a deal.
When Bogdan spoke in September he acknowledged that he was new to the job and had not yet visited Lockheed’s Fort Worth, Texas, plant or met some of the top corporate executives.
Bogdan had his first trip to the Lockheed plant last Thursday when he accompanied the Navy’s Stackley for a regular set of briefings and meetings on various aspects of the program.
The all-day meetings included Larry Lawson, executive vice president in charge of Lockheed’s aeronautics division, and Orlando Carvalho, F-35 executive vice president.
The talks were not directly related to the separate contract negotiations, or a simultaneous visit to the plant by a team of South Korean pilots evaluating Lockheed’s bid to build 60 fighter jets for Seoul, the sources said.
Negotiations over the fifth batch of low-rate production planes have dragged on for much longer than expected, with the government pressing Lockheed for far more information on its cost structures than ever before.
Lockheed Chief Executive Robert Stevens told investors earlier this year that the company had been asked to provide thousands of pages of additional information beyond what the already extensive bid it submitted.