Lockheed chief cites IT's growing role

Vance Coffman

Agency IT workers have become more important than ever as the government seeks to ensure secure operations under the 'new normal' conditions of post-Sept. 11, said Vance Coffman, chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp.

'My view is that we will be living with the 'new normal' essentially for the rest of our lives,' Coffman said during a keynote address at FOSE 2002 in Washington yesterday.

'The job of the IT professional is more critical than ever before. IT permeates virtually every system, every process, every action the government undertakes,' he said. 'Consequently, the results'whether it's a missile hitting its target or a commercial airliner taking off on time or a satellite being placed in its proper orbit'very much depends upon the performance of the individual IT professional.'

Lockheed Martin is particularly familiar with technology's function in defense systems. 'IT plays an ever-growing role in virtually every platform used by the Department of Defense,' Coffman said. For example, he said, the first F-117 Stealth Fighter in the early 1980s had an onboard computer with about 100,000 lines of source code; the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's system will have about 5 million lines.

While the Pentagon was still ablaze after Sept. 11, Lockheed Martin sent some of its IT workers in to bring up a network connecting 25,000 top policy and military leaders.

Defense also uses Lockheed's Theater Battle Management Core Systems, which give a complete picture of the battlefield to warfighters, pilots, navigators, weapons control officers, planners and intelligence officers. The system is used in Afghanistan to aid war efforts.

In addition to its Defense work, Coffman said, Lockheed Martin works with federal civilian agencies modernizing the Social Security Administration's IT systems, developing client and server software for the Patent and Trademark Office, creating data match architecture for the Office of Child Support Enforcement and other projects.

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