Lockheed and the U.S. Department of Defense reached an agreement Tuesday to build 71 jets.
The Marietta plant builds the center wing assembly for the F-35, known as the world’s most advanced multi-role fighter aircraft. The F-35’s final production line is in Fort Worth. The plant employees 330 people for the program. Of those, 230 are mechanics and the rest are engineers or managers. The agreement means their jobs are safe, said Lockheed spokeswoman Laura Siebert.
“There were thoughts that some of those (71) aircraft could be cut because of sequestration,” she said. “But the Department of Defense knows that that 71 is a priority to this country and to national security, so they determined that those numbers would not be cut.”
A final contract containing the full cost of the order will be signed in 30 days. The last contract that was signed had F-35s at an average cost of about $102 million each, she said.
Expected to come off the line in 2015 and 2016, the jets will be used by the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marines. Norway, Australia and Italy also are planning to buy some.
City Councilman Johnny Sinclair praised the news, saying his grandparents moved here because of Lockheed. “There’s no corporation that’s had a greater effect on Marietta and Cobb County. If there’s any chance sequestration would have cost anybody their job or a contract at Lockheed I’m glad to hear that it’s no longer a threat.”