Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson toured the Israel Aerospace Industries plant at Ben Gurion Airport Thursday, when executives told her that the first pair of wings for the DF-35 stealth fighter will be produced by September.
IAI is scheduled to manufacture more than 800 pairs of wings in the next several years as the F-35 comes closer to becoming a reality, despite a long string of budget and technical problems.
Israel has committee to purchasing a squadron of F-35s for approximately $3 billion.
Hewson called the contract between Israel and Lockheed Martin “another important milestone in the cooperation between our industry and Israeli defense industries.”
IAI will employ 100 people on the production line, some of whom have already been trained by Lockheed Martin. Machines for the new production are so heavy that IAI had to build a reinforced concrete floor , Globes reported.
Hewson was in Be’er Sheva on Wednesday to open Lockheed Martin’s new office in Israel and show support for the IDF’s “Move to the South” campaign.
“We are investing here and building our local team to ensure we have the resources required to support our valued customers and trusted partners in Israel,” Hewson said.
“By locating our new office in the capital of the Negev, we are well positioned to work closely with our Israeli partners and stand ready to accelerate project execution, reduce program risk and share our technical expertise by training and developing in-country talent.
“With the opening of this office and the strategic investments being made by the IDF it is clear that Be’er Sheva is on its way to becoming the Silicon Valley of Israel.”