Slashing F-35 production would hurt California's economy

By Bridget Hopkins |
PUBLISHED: August 21, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

As California reels from the devastation caused by COVID-19, it's essential that our elected officials do everything possible to promote economic development. It is equally important that our lawmakers continue to take seriously the possible threats growing in an increasingly unstable world.

Protecting F-35 fighter jet production promotes both goals; it's imperative that lawmakers do not look to save a quick buck by slashing this program.

First, consider the economics: You might be wondering how making fewer fighter jets would really have a big effect on California and the nation, but the F-35, which the Air Force calls a "cornerstone" of its fighter program, is backed by a global supply network of more than 1,800 American companies, 450 of which are in California.

F-35 production accounts for more than 53,000 California jobs and pumps $14 billion into the economy and we at Aero Pacific are proud to be a small part of that, with 140 skilled workers.

Yet some in Congress are pushing to reduce the order for the F-35; even ordering just a few fewer jets would have a dramatic effect on California's economy. Our great state has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country at 7.7 percent, which is nearly two percentage points higher than the national average - we need to be protecting and creating jobs, not shedding them.

Second, the F-35's importance to our national defense is impossible to overstate. As previously mentioned, the F-35 really is the global standard for a fighter jet. It delivers 21st century firepower, agility and breakthrough stealth technology to America's men and women on the battlefield. The F-35 represents the best of American manufacturing and innovation.

Equally important, in this time where our world is increasingly interconnected and America is re-engaging the world, the global partners of the F-35 are showing the world how free nations and their manufacturing sectors can collaborate and help advance the cause of freedom around the world.

We certainly do not hope for a reason to engage these jets in combat. In fact, we think a robust fleet of F-35's is an important deterrent against foreign aggressors who would harm America and its allies. America, as a world superpower, needs to be able ward off attacks before they happen. We build these fighter jets so America does not have to use them.

We urge Congresswoman Kim of Orange County to continue the commitment of California's 39th Congressional District to the F-35 program. Congressman Pete Aguilar sits on the committee that will be deciding the fate of the F-35 and can be a key supportive voice as well.

Congress should follow President Biden's lead and authorize the full funding of the program. We urge Congresswoman Kim and Congressman Aguilar to support the California economy and our national defense by supporting the F-35.

Bridget Hopkins is vice president of business development at Aero Pacific Corporation.