Magazine article National Defense

Lockheed Invests in Ground Combat Vehicles

Magazine article National Defense

Lockheed Invests in Ground Combat Vehicles

Article excerpt

* With a full production run of the expensive F-35 joint strike fighter becoming less likely, Lockheed Martin is diversifying its portfolio and looking for future sources of revenue in new markets such as ground vehicles, said one analyst.

The company is currently competing for the Marine Corps' amphibious combat vehicle 1.1 program, which is meant to replace the service's aging amphibious assault vehicles that entered into service in the 1970s. There are five entrants for ACV 1.1--Lockheed, BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Science Applications International Corp. and Advanced Defense Vehicle Systems.

James Hasik, a senior fellow for defense at the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, said Lockheed has been involved in the Marine Corps' effort to replace its AAVs for years. However, its recent decision to split with Finnish company Patria and compete for the amphibious combat vehicle on its own probably stems from uncertainty regarding the joint strike fighter program.

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"There is nagging concern--and there should well be--that the joint strike fighter program is never going to amount to the full run of aircraft that the U.S. still claims it wants to buy, and yet, Lockheed Martin's share price depends pretty strongly on something close to a full run of the F-35," he said. "The airplane is very expensive and it is yet unclear if the price is going to come further down." Maintenance costs are believed to be about 50 percent higher than those of an F-l 8, he added.

Ground vehicle programs like the ACV and the joint light tactical vehicle--which the company lost in August to Oshkosh Defense--could play a role in a strategy to backfill revenue in the case of lower than projected F-35 purchases, Hasik said. Lockheed is currently protesting the JLTV decision.

The company's partnership with Patria dates back to 2007 when they teamed up for the Marine personnel carrier program --an earlier effort to replace the service's amphibious assault vehicles. In 2012, Lockheed won a contract to test and validate its offering, the Havoc 8x8 armored modular vehicle, an evolution of a Patria platform. Originally it was expected that Lockheed's Havoc would be the company's entry for ACV 1. …

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