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Pentagon awards $34 billion contract to build nearly 500 F-35 fighter jets

Lockheed Martin F-35 "Lightning II's" from Turkey. (Robert Sullivan/Flickr)

The Department of Defense has signed off on a $34 billion contract to buy 478 F-35 aircraft from Lockheed Martin.

The fighter jets will come in three versions — the F-35A for the Air Force, the F-35B for the U.S. Marine Corps and the F-35C for the U.S. Navy.

“The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is built in the heart of my district, is the world’s most capable and lethal aircraft,” U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, and the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement.

“This landmark deal is a huge win for Fort Worth and the hardworking men and women of our workforce,” she said. “I applaud the Defense Department and Lockheed Martin for their efforts to ensure our outstanding military — and our allies like Israel — have the best equipment possible to carry out their vital mission.”

Officials stressed the cost of building the jet has dropped in recent years.

Lockheed Martin officials have held several hiring fairs in recent years to boost the number of employees in Fort Worth, where the F-35 is built.

Past notes on job fair websites stated that “1,000+ F-35s will be flying in 2022.”

“With more than 450 aircraft operating from 19 bases around the globe, the F-35 is playing a critical role in today’s global security environment,” according to a statement on the Lockheed Martin website. “More than 910 pilots and 8,350 maintainers have been trained, and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 220,000 cumulative flight hours.”


© 2019 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram