WASHINGTON — Leadership of the F-35 program passed from the Air Force to the Navy on Thursday, as the joint program office looks toward wrapping up the F-35 development program and the Navy's initial operational capability declaration in 2018.
Vice Adm. Mat Winter, a naval officer who had served as deputy program executive office for six months, took the reins from current PEO Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan during a ceremony in Fort Meyer, Virginia, the JPO announced.
"The F-35 program is more than a program; it is truly a global enterprise built upon a broad spectrum of stakeholders joined together by a common goal — to support the warfighter," Winter said, according to a news release.
"Our warfighters, stakeholders and JPO teammates have my commitment to provide timely continuous communications, make prudent transparent decisions, and deliver on our commitments through crisp, accountable execution," he continued. "These core tenets of my commander's intent will focus our thinking as we transition to the follow on development phase, ramp up to full rate production and expand global sustainment operations for the growing F-35 fleets and forces."
Winter joined the JPO after serving as chief of naval research. Before that, he spent years managing weapons programs acquisition, including as commander of the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, assistant commander for test and evaluation at Naval Air Systems Command, and PEO for the Navy's unmanned aviation and strike weapons portfolio.
After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1984 with a degree in mechanical engineering, Winter was commissioned as a naval flight officer in 1985. He conducted several tours as an A-6E Intruder Bombardier/Navigator with Attack Squadrons 42, 85 and 34 before moving onto the acquisition world.
Bogdan will retire from the Air Force in June after more than four years of directing the F-35 program, which was in in danger of cancellation in 2012 when he took over. In his first public comments as F-35 JPO, Bogdan said the relationship between joint strike fighter manufacturer Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon was "the worst I've ever seen."
Bogdan’s tone eventually softened as Lockheed’s performance improved and costs decreased, but he acknowledged that the JPO’s interests and the company’s were not always in line. The program hit several key milestones under his watch, including the Marine Corps and Air Force IOCs, but he also hit Lockheed with a unilateral contract in 2016 after the firm refused to bend.
"It’s been an honor to serve alongside so many great leaders and support our nation and allies," said Bogdan. "The F-35 weapon system is now operational and forward deployed. The size of the fleet continues to grow and we are rapidly expanding its capability. The F-35 will form the backbone of United States air combat superiority for decades to come and I know the program is in good hands as we transition leadership today to Vice Admiral Winter."
Winter commended Bogdan during the ceremony, saying the latter’s leadership set the program on a course for success.