WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor, announced a series of steps Friday to bolster the defense-industrial base to keep it humming along and to assist in the broader effort against the new coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement posted on Lockheed’s website, CEO Marillyn Hewson said the company recognizes “that the rapid spread of COVID-19 and its wide-ranging impacts have caused severe disruption across society and tragic loss of life around the world. We also recognize that the global pandemic has created a need for urgent action by government, business, communities and citizens.”

“We will do our part to use our know-how, resources, and leadership as a company to assist our communities and our country during this period of national crisis,” Hewson wrote, before laying out a series of moves she called an “initial contribution” to the COVID-19 relief efforts.

Click here for complete coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The company plans to advance “more than $50 million” to small and medium-sized companies in its supply chain to “ensure they have the financial means to continue to operate, sustain jobs and support the economy.” Pentagon officials and outside experts alike have raised concerns about risk to small companies in the supply chain.

Lockheed is also dipping into a $6.5 million disaster relief fund to assist employees and retirees who are impacted by the disease, and will donate $10 million to nonprofit organizations involved in outbreak relief efforts, with an emphasis on veteran and military family issues.

Additionally, Hewson pledged the use of the company’s corporate aircraft and vehicle fleet for the delivery of medical supplies and for logistical support. She also offered the use of company facilities for “crisis-related activities including critical medical supply storage, distribution, and COVID-19 testing, where needed and practical,” as well as the company’s technical and engineering skills if states or the federal government require assistance.

The company plans to continue recruitment and hiring despite the current economic downturn, using virtual technology and other social distancing tools.

Lockheed brought in more than $53.7 billion in revenue in fiscal 2018, 94 percent of which came from defense contracts, according to the annual Defense News Top 100 rankings.

Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.

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