Tom Burbage, the single, consistent public face of ’s program since its inception, is finally retiring, according to program sources.
Burbage retires as the executive vice president and general manager of program integration for the F-35. As such, his primary responsibility has been to keep the international coalition of countries outside the U.S. on track and, where possible, chase new international business.
Stephen O’Bryan is currently working under Burbage as vice president of program integration.
The departure of Burbage will mark a major shift for the program. He was a polarizing figure for the Joint Strike Fighter. Those staunchly behind him say he provided much of the glue that has kept the international coalition together through thick and thin as the F-35 stumbled through numerous cost overruns, technical problems and delays.
Those more critical of his contribution suggest that he was at the forefront of Lockheed Martin’s aggressive sales campaign that overpromised to customers and has, thus far, under delivered.
Regardless, this is certainly in line with a larger changing of the guard at Lockheed Martin. Lockheed’s new CEO, Marillyn Hewson, took over from Robert Stevens at the beginning of the new year. Last year, Larry Lawson, a formeroverseer, turned over his role as the company’s program lead to Orlando Carvalho, who previously served as deputy. Lorraine Martin, formerly of the company’s mobility programs, assumed the deputy slot.
Though many of the changes were under way, they come only months after Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan took over as the government program executive officer for the F-35. In the fall, Bogdan publicly chided Lockheed Martin and the government team for having a poor working relationship, and he said he would be willing to replace people unwilling to move forward with the program.
Burbage will continue with the program through March, and the shift reflects his own decision to retire, says Laura Siebert, a company spokeswoman. He will have served with Lockheed Martin for 32 years after making an “immeasurable” contribution to the company’s aeronautics programs, she says.