WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp on Thursday said Jeff Babione would head the company's F-35 fighter jet program, the Pentagon's single largest arms project, effective Jan. 1.
Babione, currently the deputy head of the $391 billion F-35 program, will succeed Lorraine Martin, who will become deputy executive vice president of Lockheed's Mission Systems and Training business, a newly created position.
Babione will become executive vice president and general manager of the F-35 program, overseeing development, production, and sustainment efforts.
Babione, who has been Lockheed for nearly 23 years, previously headed the company's F-16/F-22 fighter programs.
Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, who heads the F-35 program for the Pentagon, said Martin had helped rebuild the relationship between Lockheed and the government.
Babione has "the skills and leadership necessary to continue the advancements we’re making in the F-35 program," Bogdan said.
Fred Ross will replace Babione as the deputy on the program.
Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president of Lockheed's Aeronautics division, lauded what he called Martin's outstanding leadership of the F-35 program, citing key milestones such as the Marine Corps' declaration of an initial combat-ready squadron of the stealthy fighter jets in July, and three years of on-schedule aircraft deliveries.
Martin will be the No. 2 executive in charge of the Mission Systems and Training business, which is slated to double its workforce and annual revenue, now at $7.2 billion, when Lockheed completes its $9 billion takeover of Sikorsky Aircraft from United Technologies Corp next month.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chris Reese and Lisa Von Ahn)