f 35 148777173 Lockheed Turns To Employees For F 35 Savings Ideas

A general view during the United Kingdom F-35 Lightning II delivery ceremony on July 19, 2012 at Lockheed Martin Corporation in Fort Worth. (credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – It seems a number of Lockheed Martin employees in Fort Worth are taking advantage of the opportunity to tell their bosses how to trim spending on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

Production of the F-35 has taken longer than expected and costs have been more than projected.

A Pentagon Selected Acquisition Report shows that when Lockheed was awarded the F-35 contract in 2001 the cost was estimated at $233 billion. As it stands the program has cost 70-percent more, at nearly $400 billion.

Technical and design problems put part of the F-35 program on probation last year, then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta came out in favor of it.

While new Pentagon support means more than $30 billion being spent on more than 2,000 F-35s, budgeting problems continue to be an issue.

To try and combat the spending problems Lockheed is seeking advice in-house.

“So what better resource to turn to to find ways of driving down costs and enhancing affordability… than to look very much to our employee base,” company spokesperson B.J. Boling said.

During the special month-long program, salaried employees will have the chance to submit money saving ideas as part of a special program.

It’s a personal undertaking for employees who choose to submit ideas.

“These ideas are submit on an individuals own time. They’re not paid for submitting these ideas,” Boling said. “What I would say is that speaks to the character of the workforce we have here on the F-35 program.”

F-35 workers who were on strike for more than two months are not eligible to participate in the computer-based submission program, because they are hourly employees.

Boling says not being a salaried worker won’t prevent a Lockheed employee from contributing. “There are written ways for which any employee can make suggestions about how we enhance affordability,” he said.

Just last week Lockheed Martin officials, dignitaries from Washington D.C. and the United Kingdom, along with military leaders from both countries were in Fort Worth Thursday for the transfer of the first F-35B Joint Strike Fighter to an international partner.

Lockheed has assembled and is preparing to deliver the UK’s second plane next month. The UK has invested $2 billion in the development of the aircraft.