Lockheed Martin CFO optimistic F-35 investigation to finish soon

Reuters

July 22 (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp said on Tuesday an investigation into the engine failure that has grounded its F-35 fighter jet for nearly a month was ongoing but was optimistic it would get resolved soon.

"The safety investigation board is still undergoing the analysis," Lockheed Chief Financial Officer Bruce Tanner said during a conference call with reporters. "I don't believe we are quite at root cause yet," he added.

U.S. military officials last week approved limited flights of the F-35, which has been grounded since the failure of the Pratt & Whitney engine on a U.S. Air Force F-35 at a Florida air base on June 23. Though the flying restriction was lifted, Tanner said there were limits on what the plane could do, and he was cautiously optimistic the situation would get resolved soon.

While potential customers were disappointed that the F-35 did not fly during last week's U.K. Farnborough Airshow, international interest in the plane shown at the event "was not focused on the engine issue," Tanner said.

"I think the international customers that we spoke to believe this is an issue that will be resolved in fairly short order and will not have an influence on their ultimate decisions," he added.

Pratt is a unit of United Technologies Corp.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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