WASHINGTON — In a major leadership change shake-up for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program, the company has promoted Lorraine Martin while naming her deputy to succeed her as F-35 lead.

Martin has been promoted to the newly created position of deputy executive vice president for Mmission Ssystems and Ttraining, while Jeff Babione will succeed her as executive vice president and general manager of the F-35 program, effective Jan. 1, Lockheed Martin announced Thursday.

Martin has worked on the F-35 program for the past five years, serving as both deputy and later general manager of the program, according to company spokesman Mark Johnson.

Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the Pentagon's F-35 program executive officer, has had nothing but praise for Martin’s handling of the Jjoint Sstrike Ffighter. Martin took over soon after the Pentagon essentially gutted Lockheed’s F-35 staff following major cost overruns and schedule delays.

Bogdan congratulated Martin on her new position in a Thursday statement.

"Since 2013, we worked together on the F-35 program to deliver a world-class weapons system to the warfighter and improve government and contractor relations," Bogdan said. "I know she'll continue to succeed in her new position."

Executive Portrait of Jeff Babione for Company Use
Executive Portrait of Jeff Babione for Company Use

Jeff Babione

Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin

As head of Lockheed's F-35 team, Babione has a tough mandate. He will lead development, production and sustainment efforts across the three F-35 variants as the Pentagon begins to ramp up production. Babione will be tasked with supporting planned initial operational capability of the US Air Force plane in 2016, and the Navy's variant in 2018.

Fred Ross, the current vice president for supply chain management, will become the new F-35 program deputy, Johnson said.

Bogdan also praised Babione's work.

"For the past three years Jeff Babione has served as Lorraine's deputy. He has the skills and leadership necessary to continue the advancements we're making in the F-35 program," Bogdan said. "Our team looks forward to working with Jeff and his new deputy, Fred Ross, in their new roles."

Email: lseligman@defensenews.com

Twitter: @laraseligman