Lockheed Martin’s board of directors has approved the appointment of Larry Lawson to serve as executive vice president of the company’s Aeronautics business area, announced the company Thursday. Effective on April 1, Lawson will replace Ralph Heath, who is retiring after 37 years with the company, including seven years at the helm of Aeronautics. “Under Ralph Heath’s leadership, the Aeronautics business area has grown significantly and has delivered critical global security products and technologies to our US and international customers,” said Bob Stevens, company chairman and CEO. “Ralph has been a key member of our senior leadership team known equally for his operational performance, character, and leadership; he leaves a strong legacy and we wish him the best in his retirement.” Lawson is currently vice president and general manager of the F-35 strike fighter program. “Larry brings a keen understanding of our customers’ expectations and a proven track record of driving and delivering program and operational performance excellence,” said Stevens. Filling Lawson’s F-35 leadership position will be Orlando Carvalho, who is currently Lawson’s deputy.