Oct 24, 2011 By Tony Capaccio and Gopal Ratnam - Bloomberg
The first sea trials of the Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter model designed for the Marine Corps were successfully completed last week, the program office said today.
The F-35B short-take off and vertical landing version finished three weeks of tests on the Marine amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, achieving “all planned flight envelope test points,” Joseph DellaVedova, a spokesman for the Joint Strike Fighter program, said in an e-mail. “We’ve been pleased with the initial sea trials” and the aircraft “performed to predictions.”
Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor, is seeking to improve its F-35 jet development work to earn as much as $52.5 million in performance fees this year by meeting five goals. One of them was demonstrating ship operations of the Marine variant. Last year, Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed forfeited $28 million out of $35 million because it failed to meet targets.
At a potential cost of $382 billion, the F-35 is the Pentagon’s largest-ever weapons program and is intended to deliver about 3,000 airplanes to the U.S. military services and nine international partners. In January, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates put the F-35 Marine variant on probation for two years to give the company time to demonstrate the plane’s reliability.
United Technologies Corp. (UTX)’s Pratt & Whitney unit makes the power plant for the single-engine F-35 jet.
DellaVedova said the program office planned a media session this month to more fully explain the test results.