Lockheed’s F-35 Not in Budget ‘Cross Hairs,’ Dempsey Says

U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)’s F-35 jet is not in the budget “cross hairs” as the Pentagon seeks $450 billion in reductions.

Dempsey made the remarks to a military reporters and editors conference today. He said his Oct. 13 remarks to Congress on the F-35 jet were not meant to single out the airplane.

Last month, in his first testimony to Congress as the chairman, Dempsey said the Defense Department could not afford all three models of the F-35 jet, which is estimated to cost about $382 billion and is the largest Pentagon weapons program. The three variants of the jet “creates some fiscal challenges for us,” he said.

“I’m concerned about the three variants and about whether we can afford all three,” he said.

Those comments were not meant to imply specific concerns about the program, Dempsey said today. He said was referring instead to more general concerns about any U.S. weapons program if the Pentagon is forced to absorb $1 trillion in spending cuts through 2021, which may be the case if a special congressional panel fails this month to agree on deficit-reduction measures.

In the context of the potential $1 trillion cutback, “I would have said that whether the question was about ground combat vehicles” or “fill in the blanks,” Dempsey said.

“So, I didn’t have a cross hair on the F-35,” he said.

Acting Under Secretary for Acquisition Frank Kendall on Monday plans to visiting Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas F-35 plant to “review the program’s progress on development, test and production,” said spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin in an e- mail.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Capaccio in Washington at acapaccio@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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