Northrop Grumman thinks it’s well-positioned to get a good chunk of work on rebuilding the Air Force’s ICBM inventory in the years to come, company president and CEO Wes Bush said in a media telecon on Thursday discussing 2015 fourth quarter results. “As a nation, we have put it off too long,” said Bush, referring to ICBM recap. The company has “deep expertise” in the disciplines necessary to build new missiles, spacecraft, and guidance systems, he said. The work could help offset declining earnings on the F/A-18 Hornet program, which is winding down, he said. Bush also asserted that Northrop has a “smart” strategy for investing its own money in new technologies needed for the Pentagon’s “third offset” strategy, but doesn’t necessarily expect the Pentagon to step up reimbursements in this area. The reward comes “when you win,” he said. Northrop’s sales declined from almost $24 billion in 2014 to $23.5 billion in 2015, due mainly to slowdowns on the F/A-18 and other “legacy” programs. Bush said Northrop will be ahead of prime contractor Lockheed Martin in the F-35 program’s production effort, which will see a big ramp-up this year, but an uptick in revenues on the fighter will probably lag those of the prime contractor. Northrop and its partners are prepared for the increase in production, and have been getting ready for it for several years, he added. The company has major contracts for the F-35 center fuselage, radar, distributed aperture system (DAS), and communication, navigation,? and identification systems.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.