09/24/2013 12:56 EDT | Updated 11/24/2013 05:12 EST

F-35 maker hires ex-general who led NATO Libya mission

The company that makes the embattled F-35 fighter jet has hired Charles Bouchard, who was a lieutenant general in the Canadian Forces, for a top job.

Lockheed Martin Canada announced Tuesday it has hired Bouchard, effective immediately. Bouchard will report to the executive vice-president of Lockheed Martin International, Pat Dewar, the company said in a news release.

"Bouchard will assume leadership of the portfolio of Lockheed Martin activities in Canada and will be the corporation's lead representative in the country," according to the release.

"Bouchard's appointment is a result of Lockheed Martin International's focus on providing customers with direct access to the company's broad range of products and solutions."

Bouchard retired from the Canadian Forces in April 2012, after leading what many considered to be a successful NATO mission in Libya. The Libya mission provided air cover to protect civilians and allow rebel forces to overthrow long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

"We added a tremendous leader to our organization today. Charles will facilitate access to Lockheed Martin's broad portfolio of products and technologies to help Canada address its security and citizen service challenges," said Dewar. "We highly value our customers in Canada and we're investing for long-term partnership and growth."

Bouchard retired in April 2012 after more than 37 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force. His military career includes many senior leadership roles that illustrate a strong understanding of national security and stakeholder relations. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and most recently served as commander of the combined joint task force that led NATO operations in Libya.

Prior to that, Bouchard was deputy commander of NATO joint force command in Naples, Italy, the base from which the mission over Libya was conducted. He started his military career as a helicopter pilot.

Lockheed's F-35 fighter jet has had a rough couple of years. While the Conservative government initially committed publicly to buying the jet and denied repeated reports that production problems were running up the cost, they finally announced in 2012 that they were going to review the program to replace Canada's aging CF-18 fighter jets. Those jets are nearing the end of their 20-year lifespan.

The news release from Lockheed says the company is proud of its work on the Canadian navy's combat systems on its Halifax class frigates.

"We look forward to delivering a fifth-generation fighter, expanding our business in cyberspace and security, and continuing our role as combat systems provider through the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy," Dewar said in the release, referring to the F-35 and to ships being designed by Canadian suppliers.