It’s not yet clear precisely how the possible budget sequester would affect the F-35 strike fighter program, said Larry Lawson, executive vice president of the company’s Aeronautics business area. But it would certainly cause Lockheed Martin to cut workforce and the unit cost of the airplane would go up, said Lawson in an interview. He expressed frustration with the situation. “We’re trying to do the math on this and it’s very challenging,” he said, given a lack of guidance on how to comply with the Budget Control Act. However, the impact “could be very, very significant against the current contracts,” said Lawson. “You’re not taking 10 percent off the total” program cost, but “10 percent off what’s left.” Since the aircraft build rate is “relatively flat” for a few years, the sequester would force a reduction in rate, and “that would have an adverse impact on cost,” since volume drives efficiency, noted Lawson during the June 19 interview. It’s a sure bet that “we’ll reduce employees” if the sequester happens, but how they’d be drawn from across Aeronautics is still hard to figure, he said.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.