NavAir admiral to lead Joint Strike Fighter program

Program has been criticized for cost overruns, schedule delays

Vice Adm. David Venlet has been nominated to serve as the new director of the troubled Joint Strike Fighter program, the staff from Defense News reports.

Venlet, who currently leads the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Md., would lead the joint program office that is developing the F-35 Lightning II, which is the most expensive procurement program in Defense Department history. His nomination was announced March 16.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates sacked the previous program manager, Marine Maj. Gen. David Heinz, in February.

The F-35 program and its lead contractor, Lockheed Martin Corp., have been criticized in recent months for cost overruns and schedule delays. DOD currently plans to buy more than 2,400 F-35s for use in the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

Venlet, who holds the Distinguished Flying Cross, is an F-14 Tomcat pilot who had served tours on the USS Nimitz and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

He holds engineering degrees from the U.S. Naval Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School. He also is a former test pilot at the Naval Air Test Center in Maryland.

Venlet's other previous assignments include program executive officer for Tactical Air Programs and commander of the Naval Air Warfare Center’s Weapons Division. He also served as Navair Assistant Commander for Test and Evaluation and for Shore Installation Management.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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