WASHINGTON — The head of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program will temporarily take over for the company’s aeronautics business while its current leader, Michele Evans, goes on leave due to a medical issue, Lockheed Martin confirmed Monday.

“While we are unable to provide specific details, we can share that as part of her annual executive physical and follow-up with medical personnel, Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President Michele Evans was recently diagnosed with a medical issue and is undergoing treatment,” stated Lockheed Martin Aeronautics spokesman Joe LaMarca.

“Her prognosis is excellent, the condition is treatable, and a full recovery is expected,” he said. “As she focuses on her recovery, beginning Sept. 24, Greg Ulmer, F-35 vice president and general manager, will serve as her delegate and acting Aeronautics executive vice president, working in partnership with the entire Aeronautics executive leadership team.”

The story was first reported by Reuters, which cited an internal letter to Lockheed employees by Evans where she called the medical issue “significant.” Three unnamed sources told the newswire that Evans had been diagnosed with cancer several months ago but had continued to work while seeking treatment.

Evans, aged 53, was named head of Lockheed Martin’s aeronautics business in 2018 after several years as the deputy chief of that business segment. She also previously spent time as the vice president of Lockheed’s integrated warfare systems and sensors business, as well as its modernization and sustainment division.

She is widely considered to be a potential contender for Lockheed’s chief executive post once current Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson moves on.

Valerie Insinna is Defense News' air warfare reporter. She previously worked the Navy/congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.

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