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Lockheed Martin Executive: ‘War on Defects’ Helps F-35

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

FORT WORTH, TX — A Lockheed Martin Corp. executive said today the company’s “war on defects” has improved quality of its F-35 fighter jet.

Lockheed estimates that 96% of defects on the F-35 were cut between 2011 and 2015, according to a slide during an AeroDef Manufacturing presentation today in Fort Worth, TX.

“It’s the new reality,” Alexander Eksir, vice president of quality and mission success at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said at the presentation. “It’s expected.”

Lockheed (Fort Worth) also is working to reduce the number of defects from more than 1000 suppliers, Eksir said.

The number of defects at suppliers has been cut to 3000 per year from 15,000, he said. Despite the improvement, that’s still an issue for Lockheed.

‘Bad News Sooner’

“Three thousand times we got interrupted to produce a zero-defect aircraft,” Eksir said.

Lockheed is telling suppliers it needs to know “bad news sooner” to solve problems, the executive said.

The F-35, which first flew in 2006, is one of Lockheed’s main sources of revenue. The F-35 has an estimated cost of almost $400 billion for more than 2400 planes.

The company has been criticized by President Donald Trump for the cost of the fighter jet. Lockheed Martin said in a statement to CNN on Feb. 4, that it agreed to shave $728 million, or 8%, from the cost of a new batch of 90 planes.

Eksir’s AeroDef presentation concerned the need to strive for a “zero defect mentality.”

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