(Adds CEO comments, company and industry background, details on
By Mike Stone
ARLINGTON, Va., March 21 Lockheed Martin Corp's
chief executive said on Tuesday
she is "more optimistic than ever" about growth prospects
because refocusing the company on its core defense business has
helped make weaponry more affordable for cost-conscious
governments, including the Trump administration.
The F-35 jet fighter, Lockheed's largest program, which
constitutes 20 percent of the company's revenue, has drawn fire
from U.S. President Donald Trump, who made lowering prices for
military equipment a pillar of his transition into office.
CEO Marillyn Hewson told reporters that Lockheed's sale of
its services business and purchase of helicopter maker Sikorsky
from United Technologies Corp helped reshape the
company. Its growth will now come, she said, through a
combination of core defense products like the F-35, continued
high demand from international customers and innovations in
next-generation weapons including lasers.
Lockheed sold the bulk of its government services businesses
last year to Leidos Holdings Inc.
Hewson said Lockheed has held "constructive dialogues over
the past few months" with the Trump administration, which has
driven home the point that the U.S. government is a "smart
buyer" focused on value.
"Lockheed Martin is fully aligned with this effort," she
said, adding, "nowhere has this commitment to affordability been
more visible than on the F-35 program."
She made the remarks at the company's media day in
The stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter costs $95 million to
$123 million per plane, depending on the model. Despite $728
million in savings after Trump complained about its "tremendous
cost and cost overruns," it remains the most expensive weapons
system ever built.
Lockheed and its suppliers have been working to reduce the
cost of the jet through creating a more efficient supply chain
Hewson said the F-35 will also be "the largest driver" of
Lockheed's international growth. She expects that 50 percent of
F-35 orders will come from international customers in the next
Lockheed has previously said it is aiming for 30 percent of
total sales to come from international customers in the next few
Hewson said other growth drivers for Lockheed include
ongoing programs to develop lasers and other weapons that use
directed energy to destroy a target.
In 2016, Lockheed invested $988 million to research and
develop new technologies including directed energy, autonomy,
hypersonics and advanced materials.
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)