PINELLAS PARK, Fla., 8 March 2012. Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) has opened a new, 57,000-square-foot manufacturing facility to produce aircraft canopy components for the F-35 Lighting II fighter jet in Pinellas Park, Fla. The new facility adds to an existing 197,000-square-foot building in which Lockheed Martin's staff has been producing structural components for more than 10 different types of aircraft since 1997. The expanded facility can support production of up to 20 F-35 canopy units a month. To date, the facility has produced components for the C-130J, F-22, F-16, C-5, and P-3, in addition to the F-35.
The operation began with 80 employees and has grown a workforce of 250, with additional jobs expected as the F-35 program moves toward peak production.
The F-35 is expected to be one of the largest military aircraft programs in history, including thousands of aircraft to be produced for world air forces over several decades, says a Lockheed Martin spokesperson. The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th Generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fused sensor information, network-enabled operations, and advanced sustainment. Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with principal industrial partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.