Lockheed Martin has replaced the head of its aeronautics division in what is widely seen as a bid to improve frayed relations with the Pentagon over the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The defence giant named Orlando Carvalho, 54, as executive vice president of aeronautics, replacing Larry Lawson. Carvalho, who had previously been in charge of the F-35 program, will take over immediately, with Lawson set to retire April 5, Lockheed said.
The move comes amid looming US defence cuts and amped up tensions over the costly F-35 program. The Pentagon’s F-35 program chief, Lt Gen Christopher Bogdan, has recently accused Lockheed of trying to “squeeze every nickel” it can from the US government and has described the relationship with the contractor as “the worst I’ve ever seen.”
According to reports in the US, Carvalho is viewed as having developed better relations with the Pentagon than Lawson, who is seen as a tough but somewhat argumentative negotiator.
Lockheed also named Lorraine Martin, 50, as vice president and general manager of the F-35 program. Martin previously worked with Carvalho on the F-35 system development.
“Orlando and Lorraine are impressive leaders who have consistently demonstrated their ability to build strong customer relationships, successfully manage complex programs, and inspire our teams,” Lockheed CEO and president Marillyn Hewson said. “These appointments are examples of our deep bench of talent and demonstrate the value of our robust succession planning efforts.”