“We live in a goldfish bowl,” sighed Lockheed Martin F-35 vice president customer engagement Steve O’Bryan. Speaking in London last March, he was referring to the stream of official reports, testimonies and comments that examine the Joint Strike Fighter program. This year alone, five major documents on the F-35 have reached the public domain. In January, a Pentagon operational test and evaluation report surfaced.
A Lockheed Martin executive reported “lots of progress” in fixing problems associated with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter helmet-mounted display system (HMDS). But the company continues developing an alternate helmet display in case the existing system fails to meet requirements. Critical design reviews of both systems are planned in the fourth quarter.
Lockheed Martin plans to upgrade the daylight television camera on U.S. Army AH-64D Apache helicopters with a high-definition color-capable camera with improved field of view. The modernized day sensor assembly (M-DSA) is the last component of the Apache’s nose-mounted target acquisition and designation system (TADS) to be upgraded.
Striking machinists at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics plant in Fort Worth, Texas, voted by a large margin to accept a revised contract offer from the company, bringing to a conclusion a 10-week walkout at the facility that assembles the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Fort Worth Local 776 voted 1,873 to 447 on June 28 to accept a four-year contract, The Fort Worth Star Telegram reported.
Contracts with suppliers would have to be modified with untold cost consequences, if automatic U.S. government budget reductions through sequestration become a reality in January, according to Lockheed Martin chairman and CEO Bob Stevens. That could affect anywhere up to 40,000 suppliers in the case of Lockheed Martin, a $46 billion civil, government and defense contractor.
A Gulfstream Aerospace spokesman categorically denied a report published by British tabloid Daily Mail saying that the company, along with NASA, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, would “sketch out” details of a supersonic business jet at the Farnborough Airshow, which starts July 9. Further, Lockheed Martin does not have any civil aircraft announcements planned at the UK airshow.
Lockheed Martin CEO-in-waiting Christopher Kubasik says the company is committed to righting ongoing problems with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which has doubled in unit cost and slipped in schedule by six years until full-rate production, now slated for 2019. Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said the government is responsible for $672 million of the $1 billion-plus cost overrun from the program’s first four low-rate initial production (LRIP) contracts.
Fans of Lockheed Martin have a chance to win a ride on an historic Lockheed C-121C Super Constellation at the upcoming Farnborough International Airshow (July 9 to 15). Five lucky winners will have a seat on the airplane, when it makes a celebratory flight from the UK’s Farnborough Airport on the morning of July 10.
A machinists strike at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics plant in Fort Worth, Texas, which manufactures the F-16 and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, has stretched into a seventh week, with no sign of an end. Demonstrations were also reported at the Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, Md., where union members are also employed, and at Lockheed Martin’s corporate headquarters in Bethesda, Md.
BAE Systems is competing against Lockheed Martin to be the prime contractor for Korea’s forthcoming upgrade of some 130 F-16s. Attention has focused largely on the competition between Northrop Grumman and Raytheon to supply the AESA radar. But the Korean request for proposals also invited non-OEMs to bid as system integrator. Taiwan and the U.S. are also planning a similar upgrade to some 140 and 300 aircraft, respectively. Other F-16 operators may follow, making this a multibillion-dollar market.