Congressman Steve Knight, R- Santa Clarita, soared through a virtual sky in an F-35 Lightning II fighter simulator Thursday in Valencia.
The F-35 Lightning II fighter has advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment, according to the website.
“It’s easy to get enthralled and excited about all of the bells and whistles,” said Danny Conroy, director of the United States Air Force F-35 Program. “You’ll hear folks say, ‘Jeez, this a like a video game.’ Well, it’s not. It’s not a game. Don’t lose sight of the fact that what this airplane is going to be used for is not a game.”
As of April 23, 140 F-35s have been delivered to the Department of Defense, according to the website. There are three versions of the aircraft — one for the Marines, the Navy and the Air Force.
More than 3,000 F-35s are expected to be built in total with more than 600 expected to be shipped to various countries, Conroy said.
“We do not want our service members to fight anything but the top,” Knight said.
“Flight Science” versions of the aircrafts have flown more than 60 times each, officials said. The F-35 aircrafts have flown more than 30,000 cumulative flight hours since December 2006.
“The F-35 is critical to our business,” said Steve Wooten, general manager of FMI. “We look forward to the ramp up in production on the F-35 program, and the growth it means to our business and the jobs that will be added.”
FMI is a women-owned, multifaceted manufacturing facility located in Valencia, according to its website. They specialize in machining of large structural airframe components, sheet metal fabrication, structural assembly, tooling and kitting.
Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company whose 112,000 employees work in fields of research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services, according to the news release.
“This creates hundreds, if not thousands of jobs with the F-35,” Knight said. “It’s protecting America, and it’s putting us on the leading edge.”
The projected cost of the F-35 aircraft in 2018 is expected to be $85 million but officials hope that with more production, the cost will decrease, Conroy said.
“Air combat is a tough, tough business. It can be exciting, it can be very scary, Conroy said. “It’s a matter of life and death. This is the platform that the next generation could take to war but it’s also the platform that’s going to bring them home again.”
For more information about the F-35 aircraft, visit the website.