LOCKHEED HIT FOR MISLEADING REMARK
By Lee Tae-hoon
U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin will face a penalty unless it formally offers an apology for misleading statements over Korea’s plan to purchase fighter jets for 8.29 trillion won ($7.3 billion), multiple sources said Tuesday.
Senior officials at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said that Lockheed Martin has undermined the credibility of the government’s plan to purchase 60 advanced jets in a fair international competition.
The company has been cornered over a report by Dusty Ricketts of the Northwest Florida Daily News that claimed Stephen O’Bryan, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program integration, told reporters in early February that Korea had already agreed to purchase F-35 jets.
Many media outlets here churned out articles suggesting that Rickett’s report confirmed the ruling Saenuri Party lawmaker Song Young-sun’s claim that that President Lee Myung-bak promised Barack Obama to purchase F-35s in a summit in Washington on Oct. 13 last year.
Rep. Song told The Korea Times that she still suspects a shady deal might have occurred during the summit, but does not have “hard facts,” nor any witness to back her claim.
Senior DAPA official said the agency sent a letter of complaint to Lockheed Martin on Feb. 15 regarding Korea’s next-generation fighter acquisition bidding in which Boeing and EADS are also participating, but it has yet to receive any response.
They warned that the more Lockheed Martin postpones making a formal public apology, the more it will have to lose.
“If Lockheed Martin hesitates to respond to the South Korean government’s call to make a formal apology, possibly in an attempt to save face, it will suffer a harsher penalty for its role in misleading the public,” a senior DAPA official said.
DAPA has yet to obtain an audio file of O’Bryan’s media briefing on Feb. 1 at the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, but it claims that circumstantial evidence indicates that the Lockheed Martin official made a slip of the tongue.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Just a little entertainment for the day...