Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson has said the company aims to reduce the price of the F-35A fighter jet to $85 million or lower per aircraft by 2019 as part of its goal to save over $5 billion on the F-35 program.
Hewson said in a speech delivered Tuesday at Lockheed's media day event in Arlington, Virginia, that she expects the F-35 program to help increase the company's international sales to 30 percent over the next few years and predicts customers abroad to account for approximately 50 percent of all orders for the fighter jet in the next five years.
She noted that Lockheed has reduced the F-35A's price by 62 percent since the initial production lot and forecasts the creation of 41,000 indirect jobs and 15,000 direct positions across the U.S. driven by the increase in F-35 production.
The company also raised its investments in research and development efforts to $988 million in 2016 and those R&D initiatives include research on hypersonics, autonomy, directed energy and advanced materials, said Hewson, who also serves as Lockheed's chairman and president and an inductee into Executive Mosaic's Wash100 for 2017.
She discussed several milestones that Lockheed achieved in 2016 such as the initial operational capability status the firm's F-35A received from the U.S. Air Force, installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System outside the country as well as the launch of the GOES-R satellite and OSIRIS-REx spacecraft.
She cited the completion of the divestiture of the firm's information systems and global solutions business and Sikorsky's integration with Lockheed's rotary and mission systems unit.
Hewson also mentioned the company's efforts to help the Air Force's air operations center maintain its technological edge in the information age.
“To improve the center's ability to absorb and protect high volumes of incoming data, we're overhauling its information engine known as the Theater Battle Management Core System,“ she added.