November 29, 2012
Credit: Credit: Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin Corp President Marillyn Hewson said on Thursday that talks with the Pentagon about a fifth batch of F-35 fighter jets were going well and an agreement was likely before the end of the year.
“Those negotiations are progressing well,” Hewson told an investor conference hosted by Credit Suisse, her first major presentation to Wall Street investors since being named Lockheed president and chief operating officer earlier this month.
“I do feel confident that we’re going to get to closure on Lot 5 this year,” she said.
Hewson said Lockheed was also making progress in discussions with the Defense Department to secure additional funding for work on the sixth batch of F-35 jets.
Lockheed Chief Financial Officer Bruce Tanner said the two sides had “closed a lot of our differences” during recent talks, adding that Hewson had played a key role in negotiations with the Pentagon on the contract.
Details of the expected agreement were not immediately available, but sources familiar with the negotiations said they expected it to include a reduction in the cost for each F-35 fighter jet from the fourth production contract, although the number of jets to be ordered will not increase.
The Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, Frank Kendall, told Reuters on Wednesday that the two sides were “getting close” to an agreement on the fifth production contract.
He said he had “a very positive meeting” on Tuesday with Hewson about a range of issues, including the $396 billion F-35 program, the Pentagon’s largest weapons program.
Hewson will become Lockheed’s CEO in January, succeeding Christopher Kubasik, who was forced out after admitting to having an affair with a subordinate.