Company Commissioned Artists For Gallery-Type Presentation
Lockheed Martin added a bit of drama to its unveiling of its
next-generation fighter jet at this week's Paris Air Show. The
company commissioned 10 artists from all over the world to showcase
the F-35 Lighting II in paintings.
The multibillion dollar fighter aircraft was portrayed in
"Artistry in the Skies: F-35 Lightning II on Exhibit" that captured
the F-35 in some of the world's most notable and culturally
important destinations in each of the Joint Strike Fighter
program's participant countries, said the company.
"Imagine the unique partnership this incredible program brings
together, both militarily and industrially, across nine sovereign
nations stretching from Northern Europe to the Mediterranean,
across the Balkans, through the Americas and into the Southern
Pacific," said Tom Burbage, Lockheed Martin executive vice
president and general manager of F-35 program integration.
"This exhibit depicts the F-35 in each of the Joint Strike
Fighter program partner countries and launches an international
effort to highlight the great benefits of global partnership,
technological innovation and design and the unique blending of
cultures and requirements that has created this benchmark for true
It is an ambitious program, to be sure, and not only in terms of
money. The F-35 is the first military aircraft to be produced by an
international coalition of eight nations to design, finance, build
and sell the jet. This required sensitive information sharing,
investing large amounts of capital and working together for the
A lone F-35 has actually been built so far, and 13 more are
scheduled this year in spite of concerns about the increasing
costs. The estimates of its eventual cost top $600 billion,
according to the International Herald Tribune.
While there is some concern the program is coming in slightly
over-budget ($31.6 billion) is still facing technical challenges,
will need about $347 billion more to operate and support once
they're done and is a bit behind schedule, the upper brass remain
"We're well on our way," US Air Force Brigadier General Charles
Davis said. "And we will grow."
According to Alexandra Ashbourne, of Ashbourne Strategic
Consulting, in London, which specializes in military contractors,
said optimism is warranted and "the program is looking rosier than
it has been in a while."
"It had been running late," she said. "And there were a number
of other issues involving technology transfers. But these concerns
seem to have been allayed in the last few months."
Lockheed says the F-35 is actually designed to be affordable so
that not only nations that are part of the development coalition
can afford them, but so can ones that are not. The international
partnership stipulated that Lockheed do a global search for the
best technologies and the most efficient production processes for
To date, the international partners, Italy, the Netherlands,
Norway, Turkey, Canada, Australia and Denmark, have said they will
purchase 600 to 700 of the aircraft, with a price tag of around $75
million each for a basic model and up to $90 million for more
advanced versions. The Pentagon wants 2,458 which it will be divide
among the services with the Air Force getting the lion's share at
1,763. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2010, according to the
But a squabble has already erupted between the U.S. Navy and
U.S. Marine Corps over the short takeoff and vertical lift (STOVL)
version that would go to the Marines. DefenseNews said it obtained
memos that indicated the navy, which oversees the Marine budget,
wants that version scrapped from the plan because it's more
expensive and technically complicated than other versions.
"The Marines want a fighter that can land anywhere," said Loren
Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute.
But, for now, the F-35 is being viewed in its best possible
light, untainted by political goings on, at its exhibit at the
Paris air show.
"The exhibit symbolizes the multi-national dimension of the
program including the current partner countries and all those who
will fly the aircraft in the future," said Burbage.