With defense budgets tightening, the Pentagon’s largest defense contractor is looking to grow its international sales and boost funding for internal research and development, Lockheed Martin Chief Executive Officer Marillyn Hewson told reporters in a speech Monday.

She said the Bethesda-based company plans to increase its international sales from 17 percent — or about $8 billion — to 20 percent in the next year or so. In the past six months, she’s travelled to the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Poland, Germany, Singapore and Japan.

The company also plans to increase research and development funding by 5 percent this year over the $700 million it spent last year, when it increased the funding by 13 percent.

Her comments came ahead of the international debut of the F-35 Lightning II fighter, which is scheduled to fly at two air shows outside London in July. The company has been aggressively seeking international sales of the jet to help offset costs of what has become the Pentagon’s most-expensive weapons program.

“Our international expansion will fuel our company’s sustainable growth, bring economies of scale and the associated savings to our domestic and international customers, and enable a strong, safer future for our nation and allies around the world,” Hewson said during the company’s annual “media day” event.