Maj. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, newly selected to head the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, told an AFA audience that relations with the contractor were “the worst I have ever seen.” He particularly noted the almost year delay in executing a contract for the fifth production run of the new fighter jet.
“It should not take 10, 11, or 12 months to negotiate a contract with someone we’ve been doing business with for 11 years,” Bogdan said during a speech to conference attendees. “There’s something fundamentally wrong with that. We’ve got to fix it.”
Bogdan, who previously headed development of the Air Force’s KC-46 tanker, said Lockheed had been given a gift when the F-35 program received additional funding and was restructured to add 30 additional months of development. He said that would be the end of concessions on the program.
Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, quoted by media after the Bogdan speech, said the department has told Lockheed that no additional restructuring will occur that includes transferring billions of dollars from other programs.
“We’ve done that a couple of times, but there’s no further flexibility or tolerance for that approach,” Donley added.
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, speaking at the same AFA conference, expressed his full support of Bogdan, calling him a "tremendously able program manager."
Carter stressed the importance of being able to anticipate ownership costs for the Air Force’s newest jet.
“To do that, we need a government-industry team that can work together,” he said.
Michael Rein, a Lockheed spokesman, said the company agrees that everyone must be engaged to be successful.
“Lockheed Martin will continue to work with the F-35 Joint Program Office team to successfully deliver the F-35’s fifth- generation fighter capabilities to the warfighter,” Rein is quoted by media. “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.”