Sales of U.S. military aircraft will fall by 2.4 percent this year to $58.2 billion, the lowest level since 2006, according to a preliminary estimate of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA). Sales are expected to decline by another 10 percent in next year as budget cuts force the Pentagon to reduce procurement spending, the association said in its year-end review and forecast, released earlier this month.
Lockheed Martin, the largest U.S. government contractor with $46 billion in annual sales, appointed its first female chief executive on November 9 after CEO-in-waiting Christopher Kubasik resigned over a “close personal relationship with a subordinate employee,” the company announced. The Bethesda, Md.-based company named Marillyn Hewson, 58, to take over as president and CEO on January 1, succeeding outgoing CEO Robert Stevens.
Flight-testing of the Lockheed Martin F-35 is ahead of the 2012 plan, and software development is making up lost ground, now standing at two months behind schedule. Steve O’Bryan, Lockheed Martin’s v-p for F-35 program integration and business development, told a meeting in London sponsored by The Air League that the F-35B STOVL version that the UK will buy is 40 percent ahead on flights and test points. Of the nine million lines of software code in the aircraft, 87 percent is now in flight test, with another 6 percent in laboratory tests.
The UK formally accepted the first F-35 Lightning II for an international customer on July 19. “Having taken decisions on the final designs of our new aircraft carriers and balanced the MoD’s budget we can now proceed confidently to regenerating our carrier strike capability with these cutting-edge stealth combat aircraft,” said British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond.
Lockheed Martin executives contend that a new Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) that will provide long-term maintenance support for the F-35 Lightning II is evolving in line with the fighter. The ALIS was cited among F-35 program risks in a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.
Denmark’s Terma is showing off, for the first time here at the show, the multi-mission pod (MMP) it has developed for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The MMP began life as the gun pod for the F-35, which Terma designed and developed on behalf of General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, but the company has developed it into a more versatile pod that should prove attractive, in particular, to overseas operators of the JSF.
AgustaWestland (Pavilion OE1) is offering an increased-gross-weight version of its AW609 tiltrotor, which trades off some vertical takeoff capability for a higher payload limit. This will make it more attractive for some missions where vertical capabilities are not needed on departure.
In April, Lockheed Martin celebrated the delivery of its 4,500th F-16 Fighting Falcon, attesting to the longevity of the fourth generation, multirole fighter. Now the company is working to extend that legacy with the U.S. Air Force and to stretch the production of F-16 export versions.
Controversial from the start, the UK’s new aircraft carrier program has endured many twists and turns. It is now 14 years since the government first defined the need for new carriers and it will be another four years before the first of the two Queen Elizabeth II-class warships is delivered. Beyond that, it will be another four years before the carrier-strike capability becomes fully operational, in 2020.
According to the latest GAO report, the program acquisition unit cost (PAUC) of the F-35 will be $161 million. That figure includes amortization of the development cost across the expected production run. But how much should acquisition officials reckon to pay for their F-35s, going forward? Of course, that will depend what F-35 variant they buy, in what quantity and when.