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  • Chamber News - F35 Update

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    Just because the dust from the exciting F-35 fighter jet program announcement has settled, doesn’t mean Montgomery and all involved are resting on those laurels. There is much to be done to get ready for the jets’ arrival in fall 2023. According to Col. Edward Casey, Vice Commander of the 187th Fighter Wing, the basing process is on time and going well, and military construction funding has climbed to more than $55 million so far. This money will be bid out to local and state contractors over the next 2-4 years.

    Marillyn Hewson, Chief Executive Officer of Lockheed Martin, the defense contractor manufacturing the jets, recently visited Montgomery and had this to say about the F-35 program. Making Dannelly Field a preferred basing location for the F-35 means Montgomery and the state of Alabama are positioned to benefit for decades to come,” she said. “It will lead to high-quality, well-paying jobs that will be sustained over the lifetime of the aircraft. And it will result in hundreds of additional indirect jobs.”

    Her praise prompted Horace Horn, Chairman Governmental Affairs Council, to make these comments. “The high confidence of companies like Lockheed Martin in our state and region should provide optimism and anticipation for the many opportunities we have ahead,” he said.

    Montgomery’s selection to host the F-35 continues to be a significant win for the state, Montgomery and the Alabama Air National Guard, bringing millions in military construction dollars and improvements to the 187th Fighter Wing footprint at the airport as well as providing additional opportunities to engage with major players in defense contracting, including Lockheed Martin.

    It was made possible thanks to the collaboration and leadership of so many in the community and in the Guard, people like Brig. Gen. Randal Efferson, who was recently honored with the 2018 Military Leadership Award from the Association of Defense Communities (ADC). U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) presented the award to Efferson at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C., during the 2018 Defense Communities National Summit.

    “Brig. Gen. Efferson has served his country, the State of Alabama and the River Region with distinction and the utmost professionalism. His leadership was especially instrumental in helping the 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field secure the coveted F-35 mission,” Roby said.

    Efferson serves as Assistant Adjutant General and Air Component Commander for the Alabama Air National Guard, a promotion he received last December following his service as Wing Commander of the 187th Fighter Wing, where he was instrumental in the effort to bring the F-35 program to Montgomery.

    More F-35 Update
    A full-scale F-35 model, NASA’s Orion spacecraft (also built by Lockheed Martin) and other products across several industries were all on display on the lawn of the White House recently for a Made in America event. In conjunction with the event, Lockheed Martin announced that it has hired more than 1,800 new employees to support the F-35 program, meeting a commitment made to President Trump by CEO Marillyn Hewson in January 2017. The F-35 program is currently ramping up production and sustainment to meet increasing demand. The company is preparing to increase production volume year-over-year to hit a rate of approximately 160 aircraft per year in 2023. In addition to the major positives the jet program is bringing the River Region and the state, it generates an economic impact to the entire United States of more than $31 billion.
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