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No contract after nearly a year of negotiations

Negotiations between the U.S. government and Lockheed Martin over the $400 billion F-35 Lightning II program have been tense. Defense News reports that one deputy program manager said that the relationship between the Department of Defense and Lockheed is "the worst I have ever seen." 
 
After that comment was made, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated, "I don't know that I would portray it in those terms. These are difficult negotiations, as they always are when you're dealing with the amount of money and the complexity that's involved with the Joint Strike Fighter."
 
Defense News reports that last week Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter put his support behind comments made by Air Force Major General Christopher Bogdan. Bogdan had harsh words for Lockheed Martin’s failure to sign a contract with the Pentagon for 32 F-35 fighters after almost a year of negotiations.
 
However, Panetta does not agree that the relationship between the U.S. government Lockheed is the worst he's ever seen.


Lockheed F-35B Lightning II fighters [Source: Lockheed Martin]
 
“I don't share it, number one, because … I don't know the history of just how much has gone on in the past,” Panetta said. “But at least from what I have seen at this point, my view of it is these are very tough negotiations, but they aren't a reflection that either side has given up or thinks that the other side, you know, is in a more difficult state at all.”
 
Panetta is also reportedly unhappy that Congress won't be back in session until after the elections in November. An initial round of budget cuts in defense spending is set to begin in January. With Congress out of session until the elections are over, there is no chance of avoiding or delaying the defense spending cuts.
 
Panetta said, "I'll take whatever the hell deal they can make right now to deal with sequestration. The problem now is that they've left town and all of this has now been put off into the lame duck session."
 
“We need stability,” he said. “You want a strong national defense for this country? I need to have some stability. And that's what I'm asking the Congress to do: Give me some stability with regards to the funding of the Defense Department for the future.”

Source: Defense News





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