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Lockheed’s F-35 chief moves to MST as Jeff Babione takes helm

Lockheed Martin has announced a new F-35 chief, with programme deputy Jeff Babione named to replace Lorraine Martin, who is shifting from the company’s aeronautics business to mission systems and training.

Martin has headed the multinational F-35 project, Lockheed’s largest account, since 2013 and previously managed the C-130 and C-5 programmes. In past positions within the simulator and training business (2004 to 2008), Martin oversaw aircrew training programs for Air Force Special Operations Command and the F-16, F-22, F-15 and F-35 combat jets.

She assumes the newly created title of deputy executive vice-president at mission systems and training (MST) – the sector that will absorb helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky once that $9 billion acquisition finalises.

Babione has been in his current position since 2013, and becomes executive vice-president and general manager of the Lightning II programme effective 1 January 2016.

He assumes the lead at a pivotal time, with about 75% of the developmental flight programme complete and F-35 production ramping up for US and international operators.

“Jeff is a seasoned leader who is uniquely qualified to lead the F-35 team through this critical phase of the program,” says Orlando Carvalho, Lockheed’s executive vice-president of aeronautics.

Martin leaves the problem-prone F-35 programme in relatively good shape, and it is on track to meet the major milestones set during the 2010 re-baselining, including the Marine Corps initial operational capability (IOC) date with the B-model in July.

Babione must now push the programme through to IOC for the US Air Force with the conventional A-model by 2016 and US Navy with its carrier-based C-models in 2018. Coming up, F-35s are due to arrive in Israel by December of 2017 and the UK must be combat-ready by 2018 and Norway by 2019.

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