A recently approved sale of F-35 fighter jets to Poland could bring even more work to Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth Texas facilities.
The U.S. State Department approved the potential sale of 32 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets to Poland this week, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The jets carry a $6.5 billion price tag, which also includes engines made by subcontractor Pratt & Whitney.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a NATO ally,” the defense agency said.
Lockheed Martin’s aeronautics division in Fort Worth, which employs around 16,000 people, will take on the production of the fighter jets if the sale is finalized.
A spokesperson for Lockheed Martin called the approval “a significant step in the acquisition process and toward meeting Poland’s goal of having their first aircraft delivered by 2024.”
The F-35 program is regarded as the most expensive ever for the U.S. military, which is the primary customer, earning it considerable public criticism since its debut. However, the fighter jet is also Lockheed Martin’s most prized technology. The company expects the cost per aircraft to reach $80 million by 2020.
Lockheed Martin is a major source of economic growth for North Texas, and it has ramped up employment in the region to meet increasing orders for the F-35.
The defense and aerospace company has been hiring thousands of workers in recent years to accommodate the growing workload at its Fort Worth facilities. Lockheed has previously stated that it intends to reach its goal of producing 160 F-35 aircraft each year by 2023.