Lockheed CEO boosting munitions production 'ahead of need'

By Tony Bertuca / April 29, 2022 at 3:34 PM

Lockheed Martin chief executive James Taiclet said today the company is planning to help increase production of the Javelin anti-tank missile, which it makes in partnership with Raytheon Technologies, as well as ramp up other weapon systems because the war in Ukraine has sent a clear "demand signal."

Taiclet, who spoke at the Atlantic Council, said Lockheed is preparing to increase its work on the Javelin, Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense systems.

“With something this urgent, we're going to go ahead and invest ahead of need,” he said. “The need is pretty obvious. We've moved out ahead of that.”

Taiclet said he brought a team of executives to the Pentagon shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine and pledged to make investments to increase weapon systems production as soon as possible, but also requested defense officials help “make it right” by providing the company with future contracts to make up the difference.

“I went over to the Pentagon with my team and basically told the senior leadership there, ‘Look, we're already investing in increasing the capacity, please make it right and give us the contracts and agreements we need down the road, but we’re going to start investing now,’” he said.

Taiclet said Lockheed would be working to ramp up “more than just Javelins.”

“We make the Patriot missile, the THAAD missile,” he said. “These are all defensive products that keep offensive weapons from hitting either our troops, our territory or our people.”

Taiclet said Lockheed is also going to increase production of counter-battery radars and “guided rocket systems” to provide counter-battery fire.

Additionally, he said, because each Javelin contains about 250 microprocessors and other key parts, Lockheed is looking to help its suppliers and subcontractors “bulk up” so production can be increased.

“We may pre-fund them to help them do that,” he said.

When asked if the Pentagon is expected to respond to Lockheed’s efforts with increased contract spending, Taiclet said: “That’s the hypothesis.”

President Biden, meanwhile, is scheduled to visit a Lockheed facility in Troy, AL, on Tuesday where the Javelin is made.

The Biden administration has requested $33 billion in supplemental spending to Ukraine, including $16.4 billion for the Pentagon.

The request also includes $500 million to establish a new "Critical Munitions Acquisition Fund," which Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said will help surge production of “vital munitions” now and in the future.