Lockheed sees big foreign defense orders in 2016
A Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35C Joint Strike Fighter is shown before landing on the deck of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, while off the coast of California, November 3, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake

WASHINGTON: Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) on Tuesday said it expected to finalize big contracts in 2016 to sell up to four warships to Saudi Arabia and a high-altitude ballistic missile defense system to Qatar, helping the company to boost foreign sales.

Chief Executive Marillyn Hewson told analysts that the U.S. No. 1 defense contractor had an international backlog of $20 billion in 2014, and remained on track to boost international sales to 25 percent of overall revenues in coming years. Lockheed forecast 2015 revenues of $45 billion.

Hewson cited continued strong demand for Lockheed products, including its F-35 and F-16 fighter jets, the C-130J transport plane, and missile defense equipment.

Earlier in the day, Lockheed reported better-than-expected quarterly results on higher demand for fighter jets, and said it expects full-year revenue at the higher end of its forecast.

Other signs of strong demand include the U.S. government’s approval of the sale of up to four Lockheed warships to Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf country’s plans to buy 10 MH-60R helicopters that Lockheed builds with Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp (UTX.N).

Chief Financial Officer Bruce Tanner told analysts that one of the largest deals expected in 2016 was an order from Qatar for the company’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which defends against incoming ballistic missiles.

He said the company’s negotiations with the Pentagon for the next two batches of F-35 fighter jets, due to wrap up by the end of the year, contained significant numbers of international orders, and Lockheed also expected a “fairly good-sized” order of F-16 jets.

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