Lockheed Martin Corp. named new leaders for its aeronautics business and its F-35 fighter-jet program, the Pentagon’s costliest weapons system, as the company faces Defense Department pressure to cut the plane’s costs.
Orlando Carvalho, 54, becomes executive vice president in charge of aeronautics, the Bethesda-based company said Monday in a statement. Carvalho, who has run the F-35 program since 2012, replaced Larry Lawson, 55, who is retiring.
Lorraine Martin, 50, who was Carvalho’s deputy, takes over responsibility for the fighter jet, becoming the fourth manager for the program since President Obama took office.
The estimated cost for a fleet of 2,443 of the fighters has climbed to $395.7 billion, up 70 percent since 2001, and Pentagon officials have been critical of Lockheed’s management of the program.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the top defense official overseeing the F-35, said at an appearance at an Australian air show last month that the company was trying to “squeeze every nickel” out of the Defense Department. In subsequent comments, Bogdan said Lockheed got the message.
“What you should have inferred from my comments” was that “I need everybody” connected with the program “to worry about affordability,” Bogdan said March 5 at a defense industry conference in Arlington. “That was a shot across the bow because I have been slightly frustrated with real results, real actions that need to happen to reduce costs.”
Carvalho will head an aeronautics unit that also makes F-16 jets and C-130 cargo planes. He is well regarded by the Pentagon’s F-35 program office, said a defense official close to the program who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss relations with a supplier. He is seen as someone outside the company’s traditional aeronautics unit background who will instill disciplined business processes in the program, the official said.
The official also said Carvalho brings a more personable approach to negotiations with the Pentagon.
Asked whether Lawson, who has worked at Lockheed for 26 years, left because of differences with the Pentagon, Jennifer Allen, a spokeswoman for the company, said he departed for personal reasons.