Lockheed Martin announced that it has hired more than 1,800 employees for its F-35 fighter jet program and plans to hire another 400 at its Fort Worth, Texas, facility, surpassing commitments the company made in January 2017.
Lockheed Martin’s CEO, Chairman and President Marillyn Hewson made the announcement on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday as the company participated in President Donald Trump’s Made in America day.
“The program supports 194,000 direct and indirect jobs nationwide, and as we ramp up production we are creating even more opportunities for American workers,” Hewson said, according to a Lockheed Martin press release.
“The men and women who participate in the F-35 program take pride in delivering unmatched, fifth-generation capabilities to the U.S. military and our allies around the world,” she added.
Hewson previously promised Trump that Lockheed Martin would cut down costs of the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet and additionally promised to add 1,800 workers to the program, she told press outside the Trump Tower in Manhattan in January 2017, according to the Star-Telegram.
Lockheed Martin announced on Monday that it will hold a hiring event on July 30 with a goal of hiring 400 new employees with expertise in “avionics technicians, milling machinist, low observable coaters, structural assemblers, aircraft mechanics, field and service mechanics, and electrical assemblers.”
The press release adds that Lockheed Martin has reduced production cost over the years even as production volume increases, saying the cost of one unit has declined 60 percent since the warplane’s initial rollout in 2006.
Lockheed Martin is on track to reduce the cost of one jet to $80 million by 2020.
The promising announcement comes amid the back and forth between U.S. Congress and Turkey over Lockheed Martin’s sale of nearly 100 F-35 Lightning II fighter jets to Ankara. (RELATED: Mattis Warns Congress Against Removing Turkey From F-35 Program)
The Senate passed a defense bill in June with an added bipartisan clause that blocks the transfer of jets to Turkey over the country’s bogus detainment of a U.S. pastor as well as their proposed plan to purchase the S-400 missile defense system from Russia, which Pentagon officials say threatens the security and data collection of the F-35.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis advised Congress against removing Turkey from the F-35 program in a previously undisclosed letter to the House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry. A similar letter was also sent to the Senate Armed Services committee, Bloomberg reported on July 19.
“At this time, I oppose removal of Turkey from the F-35,” Mattis wrote.
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