Lockheed Martin has divided the leadership of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme into two equal parts - one focused on business strategy and the other on internal operations, writes Stephen Trimble.

The move shifts the focus of former programme manager Tom Burbage to external duties, principally massaging the company's relations with the 11-nation development team. But the day-to-day task of producing aircraft and meeting contract requirements is transferred to Bob Elrod, formerly a senior executive for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. Burbage and Elrod now share the title of executive vice-president and general manager and report to Dain Hanock, president of the Aeronautics division.

Burbage says his new role will be similar to that of a corporate chief executive, concentrating on broad strategic issues. He compares Elrod's post with that of a chief operating officer.

Burbage's main focus will be on managing the international partnership. The development- phase team is set to open discussions on an agreement that will determine the structure of the more lucrative production and sustainment phase. His other assignments include managing strategic policy, business development and operations at JSF's office in Washington DC.

Meanwhile, Elrod will focus on the daily tasks of meeting the programme's contractual requirements, an area of concern as Lockheed Martin tries to correct a nagging weight issue with the short take-off and vertical landing F-35B.

The organisational structure is likely to be reviewed in a year's time. At some point, the company may have to consider adding dedicated managers for each model, which will become more of a priority as the programme shifts into production mode later this decade.

Source: Flight International