“AVALON, Australia (Reuters) – The Pentagon program chief for the F-35 warplane slammed the main contractors on the program,Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney, accusing them of trying to “squeeze every nickel” out of the U.S. government and failing to see the long-term benefits of the project.
U.S. Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan made the comments on Wednesday during a visit to Australia, where he has sought to convince lawmakers and generals to stick to a plan to buy 100 of the jets, an exercise complicated by the second grounding of the plane this year and looming U.S. defense cuts.
Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp , is sole supplier of engines to the $396 billion F-35, or Joint Strike Fighter. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the radar-evading jet, the biggest weapons program in history.
“What I see Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney doing today is behaving as if they are getting ready to sell me the very last F-35 and the very last engine and are trying to squeeze every nickel out of that last F-35 and that last engine,” Bogdan told reporters at the Australian International Airshow in southern Victoria state.
“I want them both to start behaving like they want to be around for 40 years,” he added. “I want them to take on some of the risk of this program, I want them to invest in cost reductions, I want them to do the things that will build a better relationship. I’m not getting all that love yet.”
Bogdan’s tough remarks sent shock waves through the Pentagon and U.S. industry on Wednesday.
Lockheed said it was “singularly focused” on executing its contracts to develop, produce and sustain the new warplane, and insisted it was on track to finish development by 2017….”Twitter