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F-35A Aircraft Right at Home in Utah Aerospace Industry

July 06 2015 - 12:17 pm

Press Release
For Immediate Release

July 6, 2015

Michael Sullivan, GOED Communications Director

F-35A Aircraft Right at Home in Utah Aerospace Industry
Lockheed Martin leaders presented up-and-coming fighters at GOED meeting

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—Who would’ve thought the ever-impressive F-16 could ever be beat? Who would’ve thought Utah would get to play a part in the game?

Gerald Murray, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics director of enterprise sustainment at Hill Air Force Base, provided an overview of the new F-35A fighter aircraft coming to Hill AFB.  Along with Perry Oaks, senior manager at Lockheed Martin, Murray presented three models to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) during an extended executive staff and partners meeting on Monday.

The F-35 comes as a result of a decade-long project lead by Lockheed Martin, which has an aeronautics office in Layton near Hill AFB. The main assembly of the multirole fighters takes place in Ft. Worth, Texas, but the Air Force is standing up its first operational unit at Hill AFB in 2016. Additionally, the Ogden Air Logistics Complex will provide most of the aircraft and component sustainment support for the F-35A including modification, maintenance, repair and overhaul for the next 50 plus years.

“The F-35 is representative of some of the best aerospace and defense technology in the world,” said Val Hale, executive director of GOED. “The fact Utah gets to play such a critical role in training and development shows Utah is a true leader in the aerospace industry.”

The fighter comes in three different models: the F-35A, F-35B and F-35C. Each has slightly varied capabilities suitable to serve the United States Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy which combined will purchase 2,443 jets. Internationally, Lockheed Martin has contracted with 11 other nations, including the U.K.’s Royal Air Force, for more than 800 hundred aircraft.

According to Murray and Oaks, the most remarkable feature of the F-35 is its stealth capabilities. The new plane, Murray said, is “practically invisible to radar.” As Oaks put it, where the F-16 might look like a truck on radar, an F-35 would register like a butterfly.

Modern technological feats include the fact the plane is made almost entirely out of composite materials. But perhaps most notable are the fighter’s software systems. Murray estimated the F-16 required about 5 million lines of code for control of the aircraft. The F-35’s air and ground software, on the other hand, contains more than 24 million lines of code. The pilot’s helmet alone contains more software than the entire F-16. The high-tech helmet, accompanied with a number of sensors on the surface of the plane, allows the pilot to have a 360 degree view around the body of the aircraft—including a view below.

Software supports this new generation of “flying computer” aircraft and the growing technology across the board is expected to generate approximately 2,000 jobs at Hill AFB in the coming decade. Murray and Oaks presented three models of each F-35 to Hale, and Hale expressed GOED’s continued support of aerospace and defense—one of GOED’s six strategic economic clusters.


Val Hale accepts F-35A models presented by Perry Oaks (left) and Gerald Murray (right).

About the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED)

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) charter is based on Governor Gary Herbert’s commitment to economic development statewide. Utah’s economic development vision is that Utah will lead the nation as the best performing economy and be recognized as a premier global business environment and tourist destination. The mandate for this office is to provide rich business resources for the creation, growth and recruitment of companies to Utah and to increase tourism and film production in the state. GOED accomplishes this mission through the administration of programs that are based around targeted industries or “economic clusters” that demonstrate the best potential for development. GOED utilizes state resources and private sector contracts to fulfill its mission.  For more information please contact:  Michael Sullivan, 801-538-8811