The U.S. Air Force must modify its annual "launch capability" contract with United Launch Alliance, to level the playing field for new competitors of the joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, senior U.S. Air Force and Pentagon officials told lawmakers on Wednesday.Air Force Space Command Commander General John Hyten said acquisition officials were working on a plan to phase out the infrastructure support contract in coming years. He cited changing market conditions, including the rise of a rival launch company and prospects for an increase in government satellite launches.He said the contract was initially put in place to protect "a very fragile industrial base" in the 2000s, when there were few U.S. government satellites being launched due to program delays, and commercial demand failed to materialize as expected.He said the contract made it impossible to have a fair competition, backing an argument often made by privately held Space Exploration Technologies. The company, also called SpaceX, hopes to be certified by June to compete for some satellite launches now carried out solely by ULA.
Lockheed Martin Corporation is a global security and aerospace company, which is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. Shares of LMT fell by 2.11% or $-4.28/share to $199.02. In the past year, the shares have traded as low as $153.54 and as high as $207.06. On average, 1264190 shares of LMT exchange hands on a given day and today's volume is recorded at 1337679.