LONDON—A collapse in oil and gas prices that has choked off demand for commercial helicopters has been harsher than anticipated, says Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, but she stands behind the company’s $9 billion acquisition of Sikorsky last year from United Technologies Corp.                                                                       

“I have no regrets whatsoever on the acquisition, nor the acquisition price,” Hewson said in an interview here as the Farnborough International Airshow kicked off July 11. “It was very opportunistic, and we got great value for our shareholders.” She noted that a $1.9 billion tax benefit which Lockheed Martin recorded significantly reduced the effective purchase price.

While the oil and gas slump has hit demand for commercial helicopters, the global rotorcraft industry is still a $30-billion-a-year business, Hewson says. And Lockheed Martin, best known as a giant defense contractor, has no plans to let the commercial side of Sikorsky wither. “The commercial element of Sikorsky was one of the attractions to us,” she said. “Our view is that we can take the core technologies and capabilities that we are doing on the defense side and transition them into the commercial side.” Hewson also expressed confidence that Lockheed’s upgraded T-50A trainer, which recently made it first flight, will be a strong competitor in a crowded competition for an upcoming U.S. Air Force contract to replace its aging T-38 trainers. Teams led by Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon are also expected to bid.

“We’re very excited about our offering,” Hewson said. “We think it’s tried and true. It’s being used by nations around the world, and it would provide the U.S. Air Force the capability to address very quickly a terrible gap” in trainer capability.

Hewson said Lockheed Martin is working hard to win new customers for the F-16, which is heading for a production halt after deliveries to Iraq are completed in 2017. She said Bahrain, Indonesia, Colombia, India and other countries all have expressed interest in the aircraft.  “We will have a gap in the production line,” she said. “Our job is to get the next tranche sold so that we can bring that back up after it goes cold.”

Hewson declined to speculate on when a long-awaited large international block buy of the F-35—crucial to the program’s plan to drive down unit costs—would be finalized. “I don’t know when we will get news on that. I saw some media that General Bogdan was asked about that,” she said, referring to F-35 program chief Gen. Christopher Bogdan. “He would probably be the one to ask.”