Area Development
Lockheed Martin, a Bethesda, Maryland-based developer of advanced technology systems, opened its new 57,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Pinellas Park, Florida, to produce aircraft canopy components for the F-35 Lighting II fighter.

The new facility is an annex to Lockheed Martin's existing 197,000 square foot factory located in mid-Pinellas County, on the state's gulf coast, where 250 employees produce structural components for more than 100 different types of aircraft. The firm estimates about 100 additional jobs will be created as the F-35 program moves toward peak production. The expanded facility can support production of up to 20 F-35 canopies each month, a company spokesman said.

The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th-generation fighter costing $150 million each. The aircraft combines advanced stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, and a sensor information network. Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.

Aircraft canopy components will be produced at the plant and include its frame, ejection pyrotechnics and structures that support the bubble windshield. Besides supporting Lockheed Martin aircraft programs, the facility does work for several other companies.

In remarks at the event, Harry Glenn, chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Bill Young, chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, said, "The Lockheed Martin Pinellas facility has distinguished itself with its quality, safety and efficiency and has become a center of excellence for the manufacturing of F-35 canopies."