Officials at the Lockheed Martin facility here formally announced the start of F-35 Lightning II centre wing production operations at the plant during a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Actual centre wing assembly work for the multi-role 5th generation aircraft will begin end of July in the Marietta site’s massive B-1 aircraft production building. The F-35 work area will occupy more than 320,000 square feet, and the assembly activity is projected to employ more than 600 workers by 2016 as the program ramps up to full-rate production of one aircraft per workday.
The F-35 is an international program with eight countries partnering with the US to develop and produce the aircraft. Final assembly of the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter takes place at the Lockheed Martin facility in Fort Worth, Texas. Establishing the program’s centre wing assembly operation in Marietta helps alleviate capacity constraints at the Fort Worth location while taking advantage of available manufacturing capacity and 5th generation aircraft production expertise the Marietta site offers, explains Lockheed Martin in a statement.
“This is a very proud day for us in Marietta as we begin to support production of the largest military aircraft acquisition program in history,” said Lee Rhyant, executive vice president and general manager of the Lockheed Martin Marietta site. “We have state-of-the-art facilities, and our workers have the skill, the dedication and even the 5th generation fighter expertise to build this critical component. We’re ready to support the F-35 now and in the future; it’s time to get to work.”
According to Larry Lawson, executive vice president and general manager of the F-35 program for Lockheed Martin, the Marietta centre wing assembly operation will play an important role in meeting customers’ needs for an affordable, high-quality product.
“Marietta’s available facilities, tooling and worker experience with the F-22 are key enablers for F-35 program production,” said Lawson. “The operations here will help us realize greater efficiencies, deliver quality and meet F-35 production rates.”
The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations, advanced sustainment and lower operational and support costs. Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.