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Transcript: Lockheed Martin CEO Jim Taiclet on "Face the Nation," May 8, 2022

Lockheed Martin ramping up production of Javelins, CEO says
Lockheed Martin ramping up production of anti-tank Javelin missiles, CEO says 05:49

The following is a transcript of an interview with Jim Taiclet, the president and CEO of Lockheed Martin, that aired Sunday, May 8, 2022, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: We now turn to Jim Taiclet, the CEO of defense giant Lockheed Martin, which makes some of the weapons the US is sending to Ukraine in its fight against Russia. Good morning to you, sir.

JIM TAICLET: Good morning, Margaret. Happy Mother's Day to you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you very much for saying that. We hear time and again one of the most powerful tools the Ukrainians have are these anti-tank, Russian tank busting missiles known as javelins. That's what your company jointly produces with Raytheon. How quickly can you scale up production to get more to them and to backfill what the US has given up?

TAICLET: Sure, Margaret. Well, the president visited us in Troy, Alabama, to thank the workforce earlier this week, and we really appreciate what he's done for us. We are therefore on our side, accelerating our investment in that factory and in our workforce there. So we're already investing ahead of time to buy tooling, to expand the plant and also support our suppliers to get ready to ramp up production. So right now, our capacity is 2,100 Javelin missiles per year. We're endeavoring to take that up to 4,000 per year, and that will take a number of months, maybe even a couple of years to get there because we have to get our supply chain to-to also crank up. As we do so, we think we can almost double the capacity in a reasonable amount of time.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Raytheon had said that the different system, the Stingers, they couldn't even get going on ramping that up until 2023. But you can start when exactly?

TAICLET: We're starting now to ramp it up because we have an active production line right now that the president saw. And also, we've got a supply chain that's active in addition to that. So we can start turning up the heat now and- and ramping the production immediately because of those circumstances.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said- well you implied- you're- you're basically doing it on spec, right. You're anticipating that order is going to come through from the US government. But you're a business person, you have to plan ahead. We don't know how long this war is going to last. CIA says, you know, Vladimir Putin thinks he's got a double down here. So how long are you planning for with this ramp up?

TAICLET: Well, we're planning for the long run and not just in the Javelin, because this situation, the Ukraine conflict, has highlighted a couple of really important things for us. One is that we need to have superior systems in large enough numbers. So like Javelin, Stingers, advanced cruise missiles, equipment like that. So we know there's going to be increased demand for those kinds of systems from the US and for our allies as well and beyond into Asia-Pacific, most likely too. The second really valuable lesson was control of the airspace is really critical. So the Ukrainians are managing to control their airspace. The Russian air force doesn't have free rein over the entire country. And the reason that they don't is because the Ukrainians can still fly their aircraft and they also have a pretty effective integrated air and missile defense system. So products and systems like F-16, F-35, Patriot missiles, VAD missiles. We know that there's going to be increased demand for those kinds of equipment, too, because the threat between Russia and China is just going to increase even after the Ukraine war, we hope is over soon. Those two nations and regionally, Iran and North Korea are not going to get less active. Probably they're going to get more active. So we want to make sure we can-can supply our allies and our country what they need to defend against that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So what do you need to do that? Because you did say supply chain's an issue. I read that there's over 250 microchips or semiconductors in each javelin. 

TAICLET: That's right. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: We know there's an effort in Congress to get legislation to try to create more semiconductors here instead of relying on Asian suppliers. Can you do this scale up without that kind of legislation?

TAICLET: It will be extremely helpful to have the Bipartisan Innovation Act passed, for example, because we do need to invest more in the infrastructure in the US so we have domestic supply, especially in microprocessors. And so our production line can run today, but in the future we're going to need more domestic capability and microprocessor, not only design but manufacturing, testing, etc., so that we have assured supply of those microprocessors in the future. And they'll be other inputs, too. But that's one of the highlighted ones.

MARGARET BRENNAN:But we've heard on this program time and again for business people, how important that is to get done. Congress still hasn't voted on it, voted it through. Do you have any commitments from anyone here in Washington to- to get this to the president's desk soon?

TAICLET: Well, we know that there's a lot of support for it, both in Congress and the administration- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because it takes time to scale up.

TAICLET: Etc.. Yes, it does. It takes years. And so we're collaborating right now, for example, with Intel, it's one of our partners and trying to drive what we call 21st century security into national defense. And we're going to need the most advanced processors and we're going to need them to be customizable to defense needs as well. So having that domestic capability, again, to. All the way through production and testing is going to be more important in the future than it is even today.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You also make F-35 fighter jets you referenced there. Germany is now trying to buy them. I mean, you have a lot of buyers in Europe right now potentially. Do you have enough workers to meet all of these requests?

TAICLET: We have enough now. But we know, like, for example, in the F-16 line as well that we're building up in South Carolina actually. We need more workers. And so we're recruiting heavily. We've got a very strong workforce in Fort Worth, Texas, where we make the F-35. So that production line is running just fine now. We've got sufficient employees there to do that. But in other parts of the country and ultimately in Texas, we're going to need to actually hire more people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Thank you very much for giving us insight into your business.

TAICLET: Glad to do it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And being here in person. We'll be right back.

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