He said the program had an unprecedented level of transparency which was good, but also sometimes had “lousy” consequences since people came to the wrong conclusions about how difficult it would be to resolve a technical issue.
“We’re happy to pick yourselves up and move ourselves forward,” he said. “When we’re not doing well we’ll redouble our efforts to get this right.”
Chief Financial Officer Bruce Tanner told analysts that Lockheed expected to finalize a contract with the government for a fifth batch of fighter jets in the fourth quarter, which would help free up initial funding for the sixth batch of fighters.
Lockheed and the Pentagon have been negotiating the fifth production contract since December 2011, but Kubasik said Lockheed was still responding to requests for information from the government.
One government official who is close to the negotiations said the contractual process had been exceptionally trying, with Lockheed often providing reams of extraneous data instead of simply providing the cost data that had been requested.
Kubasik told reporters that work on those planes was already 50-percent completed under an earlier preliminary contract, which meant the government could assess actual production and labor costs on the program, as opposed to relying on estimates.
He said Lockheed had also reworked a computerized logistics program after it ran into security challenges earlier this year. He said work on the system, known as the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) was 94 percent complete, and it was being tested now at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
The Marine Corps needs the software to be working when the first F-35 arrives at an air base in Arizona next month to kick off creation of the first operational F-35 squadron.
“By all accounts people are very satisfied with the progress we’ve made on ALIS,” he told reporters.
Kubasik said the Pentagon had also approved Lockheed’s plan for fixing a troubled cost-tracking system, and he expected the Pentagon’s Defense Contracts Management Agency to scale back its withholding of payments on the program from 5 percent to 2 percent early next year.