WASHINGTON --- Executives from Bethesda, Maryland-based defense giant Lockheed Martin sought to reassure investors after a top Defense Department official criticized the cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a $90 million jet that is the crown jewel of Lockheed's business, in a news conference Tuesday morning.
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, said the F-35 "has room for a lot more performance" in response to questions about whether he is biased toward his former employer, which competes with Lockheed for Pentagon weapons deals. His comments come amid news reports that the Pentagon is considering buying F-15 fighter jets from Boeing.
"I am biased toward performance," Shanahan said. "I am biased toward giving the taxpayer their money's worth. And the F-35, unequivocally, I can say, has a lot of opportunity for more performance."
Lockheed Martin chief executive Marillyn Hewson responded by saying she had been assured by Defense Department officials that any purchase of Boeing F-15 jets would not affect how many F-35s it buys.
"If they chose to have an order on F-15 . . . it won't be at the expense of F-35 quantities," Hewson told investors. "I'm hearing that directly from the leadership in the Pentagon . . . not just our suspicion, but I've been told that directly. So, I'm not concerned about that." (end of excerpt)
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