Lockheed Martin's Dave Wheaton To Retire At End Of Month
FORT WORTH, Texas, January 21st, 1998 -- David J. Wheaton, Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program manager, has announced that he will retire at the end of January after a 30-year career in the aerospace industry.
"There are few individuals who have had as much impact on our company's fighter aircraft business as Dave Wheaton, considering the years he led our F-16 marketing efforts and the key role he has played in winning and launching the Joint Strike Fighter Concept Demonstration program," said Dain M. Hancock, president of Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems.
"There is never a good time to lose someone of Dave's caliber from an effectively operating team, and he will be missed greatly," Hancock said. "He did, in fact, postpone his retirement plans to ensure the JSF program is on sound footing before his departure, and the completion of a very successful customer review in December gives us good confidence that this is the case. That makes this the best possible time to transition program leadership," Hancock said.
On January 2, Lockheed Martin announced that senior leaders of the government JSF program had visited Fort Worth and received detailed briefings on work conducted in the first year of Lockheed Martin's JSF Concept Demonstration contract. Wheaton said the annual review showed that Lockheed Martin's JSF program is on schedule, within budget and technically strong, leading to a highly capable and affordable aircraft configuration.
Wheaton joined General Dynamics in 1967 at the Convair Division in San Diego. He worked on several Naval aircraft programs, including advanced V/STOL fighter-attack concepts and Tomahawk cruise missile marketing. He transferred to Fort Worth in 1975 and was named Vice President - Marketing in 1980, with oversight of all U.S. and international F-16 sales efforts.
After overseeing the sales of approximately 3,000 F-16s to U.S. and international customers, Wheaton joined General Dynamics' corporate staff in 1988 as Vice President for Program Development and Planning. He returned to Fort Worth in 1991 and founded a department charged with developing the company's overall strategic direction, including gestation of new business pursuits and future programs. Lockheed Martin's Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) studies began within that organization, and Wheaton was named Vice President and Program Manager for JAST in 1995. The JAST effort was renamed Joint Strike Fighter in 1996.
In addition to his industrial career, Wheaton had a total of 20 years of active and reserve experience as a Navy fighter pilot, including combat missions in Southeast Asia. He earned a bachelor's degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Colorado.
Wheaton and his wife, Gail, split their time between Fort Worth and Angel Fire, N.M. They have three grown children.
Hancock said a new JSF program manager will be named prior to February 1, the effective date of Wheaton's retirement.
Lockheed Martin received one of two Joint Strike Fighter concept demonstration contracts the Department of Defense awarded November 16, 1996. The contract calls for Lockheed Martin to produce two demonstrator aircraft. The winner of this phase of the competition will proceed to demonstration and validation beginning in early 2001. The Joint Strike Fighter is expected to enter service in 2008.
Approximately 3,000 Joint Strike Fighters are planned for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and the United Kingdom's Royal Navy. Export sales could total another 2,000 aircraft over the life of the program.