With a commitment to building on his predecessor’s foundation, a new leader took charge of the F-35 Lightning II program office at a Pentagon ceremony Dec. 6.
A veteran of another complex defense acquisition program, the Air Force’s KC-46 tanker, Lt Gen. Christopher Bogdan assumed the watch from Vice Adm. David Venlet as the Program Executive Officer for the F-35 program.
Bogdan thanked Venlet for placing the program on a firmer, more realistic foundation.
“The work by Admiral Venlet and the team over the past two-plus years on the most complex program in history is incredible,” Bogdan said. “Not only did they right the ship and deliver the first aircraft to an operational squadron, but we are now very well-positioned for the future.”
As PEO, Venlet was responsible for overseeing the $396 billion program which is simultaneously developing, testing and fielding three next generation strike fighter aircraft for the United States Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, eight international partners and two foreign military sale countries.
Venlet’s departure as PEO also coincided with his retirement after more than 36 years of naval service. With the change in PEO from Navy to Air Force, the program’s service acquisition executive switches from Air Force to Navy.
“It’s been an honor to serve alongside so many great leaders and work to do what’s right for our nation and allies. Working the past two years on the F-35 program has been a rewarding challenge and due to the great effort of the Department of Defense, the Services, the Joint Program Office, our International Partners and the Industry team, I can say with confidence the we will deliver a weapons system whose presence in the battlespace will make everything else in the combined force work better. It will make the air battle, the battle on the land, the battle on the sea better.”
In addition to his previous role as PEO and program director for KC-46, Bogdan is a test pilot, and commanded the 645th Materiel Squadron and the Special Operations Forces Systems Group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
“With his background, tenacity, and as a veteran of many challenging acquisition programs, General Bogdan is uniquely suited for this job,” Venlet said. “I know the very talented people working on F-35 and others in the department are in good hands under his leadership.”
As deputy PEO for the past six months, Bogdan became familiar with the current state of the program and its complexity.
“We would be well-served to remember who we are developing the F-35 for – America’s Airmen, Marines and Sailors and our international allies. They are counting on what the F-35 will bring to the fight,” Bogdan said. “I’m committed to delivering these aircraft to our warfighters.”
A 1983 distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering, Bogdan started his career as a KC-135 pilot. He holds master’s degrees in engineering management with distinction from California State University, Northridge, and another in national resource strategy as a distinguished graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.