Congresswoman Norma Torres

Representing the 35th District of California
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Local representatives take part in F-35 plane simulation

August 19, 2015
In The News

As a world superpower, the United States will always be at the forefront of military weapon technology.

With the F-35 Lightning II program, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter program, the nation has once again achieved a lethal and versatile combat system -- one that has also proven to be quite expensive.

After 15 years in development and some $200 billion over the original budget, the U.S. Department of Defense’s newest achievement began operations last month, and on Aug. 18, Lockheed Martin showcased its capabilities to elected officials as well as employees of Gentex Corporation in Rancho Cucamonga.

Organized by Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 112,000 people worldwide, the event was attended by Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA-31) and Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA-35) as well as local officials to demonstrate the functionality of the F-35 cockpit.

The federal representatives were able to maneuver the plane through a simulator and witness the power and versatility of the world’s deadliest aircraft, used only in war situations.

“As the mother of an Air Force veteran, I know first-hand the importance of giving our military men and women the best capabilities, and it gives me great pride to know that some of the equipment used by our service members in the air and on the battlefield is built right here in the Inland Empire,” said Torres.

Indeed, Gentex Corporation of Southern California, a Pennsylvania-based company with a branch in Rancho Cucamonga, is responsible for supplying the F-35 helmet shell, helmet cable interface, oxygen mask, active noise reduction, laser eye protection spectacles, chem/bio respirator, F-35 test set and custom fitting services for the F-35 aircraft.

After putting together the parts produced in 1,300 companies from 44 states, including Puerto Rico, the most advanced aircraft in the world is born, complete with stealth capabilities, supersonic speed, extreme agility and advanced fusion technology.

According to Robert Rubino, director of the F-35 Lightning II program, there are about 26,000 direct and indirect jobs associated with the program in California alone, and many of them are located in the Inland Empire region.

Aguilar, who serves on the Armed Services Committee, applauded the work of local employees and thanked the team that develops key components of the aircrafts, considered by many as the most expensive weapon system in the history of mankind.

Critics contend that the program as a waste of money, arguing that the $85-million-dollar cost of each plane is very high. However, designers argue that the cost is significantly less compared to other aircraft production.

As of July 20, the Department of Defense had received 148 F-35 aircrafts. When the program is completed, the Defense Department will have a total of 1,763 F-35s aircrafts. There currently plans to export F-35 war planes to ally countries such as Italy, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Australia, and Turkey, among others.