MANCHESTER, NH – Jobs, national security, and military superiority were the talking points Thursday at Gentex Corporation, where Lockheed Martin showcased its F-35 Lightning II cockpit demonstrator to elected officials and leaders in the business community.
Gentex, an important supplier for the F-35 program, developed the F-35 helmet system platform, the respiratory protection system, laser eye protection, hearing protection and communications devices, and an array of technical services and support.
During the September 21 event attendees received an update on the status of the F-35 program as well as the opportunity to “fly” the F-35 cockpit demonstrator to gain an understanding, from a pilot’s perspective, of how the fighter jet functions.
U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, D-NH, also made an appearance to speak on the beneficial impact of manufacturing jobs brought to New Hampshire through the program, the importance of maintaining our country’s global “air superiority,” as well as to take a spin behind the wheel in the F-35 cockpit demonstration.
“The manufacturing and defense industries are critical to the Granite State’s economy and to keeping New Hampshire and America safe, secure, and free.” I will continue working to support the important F-35 program as we strive to build an even stronger and safer state and country,” Hassan said.
“Our suppliers are one of the key reasons for the F-35 program’s success and we are proud to showcase Gentex’s hard work in producing critical parts for the F-35 program,” said Bob Rubino, deputy director, F-35 Program at Lockheed Martin. “There are 55 F-35 program suppliers located in New Hampshire, supporting more than 3,520 direct and indirect jobs and providing more than $481 million in economic impact throughout the state.”
The unit price of F-35 fighter jets scale depending on the amount ordered for production; for instance, an order of 96 F-35A jets puts the cost at $94.6 million, while an order of 12 F-35B jets puts the cost at $122.8 million.
In 2014, the DoD announced an industry-led effort called “Blueprint for Affordability” and expanded the effort in 2016 from a $1.8 billion to a $5 billion savings initiative. The goal of these programs is to drive the cost of an F-35A to less than $85 million in 2019.
In 2017, the F-35 program has more than 1,400 suppliers in 46 states and Puerto Rico, employs more than 170,000 people, and generates an economic impact of over $24 billion. As the program reaches full rate production, there will be an increase in jobs and economic impact.