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Lockheed Martin will be hiring ‘on the spot’ Tuesday for F-35 jobs

Lockheed's F-35 and the Legacy of Air Supremacy

Since its inception, the U.S. Air Force has been developing the fastest, most powerful aircraft in the world. Today’s F-35 that combines supersonic speed, advanced stealth capabilities and integrated avionics. (video by U.S. Air Force)
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Since its inception, the U.S. Air Force has been developing the fastest, most powerful aircraft in the world. Today’s F-35 that combines supersonic speed, advanced stealth capabilities and integrated avionics. (video by U.S. Air Force)

Lockheed Martin will be interviewing at least 2,000 people for jobs next week — with some people being offered employment “on the spot” — as part of the buildup of F-35 production at its Fort Worth plant.

Lockheed already has cleared about 1,900 applicants who pre-registered through social media for interviews, but anyone who thinks they may be qualified for one of the jobs, especially in manufacturing, can come to the Sheraton Fort Worth Downtown Hotel on Tuesday. The event opens at 7 a.m.

“We’re really ramping up the activity to do this hiring. This is new to us, making offers on the spot,” said Ken Ross, a spokesman for Lockheed. He said the company posted the job fair on Facebook and other websites within the last two weeks and had to shut it down after 24 hours when 2,600 people registered.

We’re really ramping up the activity to do this hiring. This is new to us, making offers on the spot,

Ken Ross, Lockheed spokesman

At a similar event in June, the company made 601 offers in one day — 501 in manufacturing jobs like aircraft and avionics mechanics, painters and material handlers — and 100 in areas such as engineering, supply chain and finance, Ross said. Ninety-five percent of the applicants accepted their job offers.

There will be another job fair in August, Ross said. Those who haven’t pre-registered can show up with their resumes and go to lockheedmartinjobs.com.

Many of the applicants hired to work on the production line will make $21 to $37 an hour, or $43,680 to $76,960 a year, depending on their experience level, said Paul Black, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District Lodge 776 at Lockheed.

“I think it is a great opportunity for a lot of folks under one of the best union contracts in the area,” Black said. The union and Lockheed agreed on a six-year contract a year ago.

In January, Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson emerged from a meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump saying that Lockheed planned to hire 1,800 additional employees in Fort Worth where the F-35 is being built.

The Fort Worth plant employs about 14,000 workers, with roughly 8,800 working on the F-35. Hiring of additional workers will stretch out through 2020, company officials said. Last year, Lockheed built about 50 F-35s and plans call for production to increase to about 160 a year by 2019.

F-35 production 2
An F-35 in the finishing area at the Lockheed plant in August 2015 before being painted with special coatings. Rodger Mallison Star-Telegram archives

This year, Lockheed Martin plans to deliver 66 jets from Fort Worth, as well as final assembly and checkout facilities in Japan and Italy, said Mark Johnson, a spokesman for the F-35 program in Fort Worth.

The company doesn’t have a set goal of how many people it plans to hire on Tuesday, especially since applicants will also be able to apply for jobs at its facility in Palmdale, California. That plant acts as an incubator for developing new, often classified, technology.

While someone may be offered a job Tuesday, it doesn’t mean they’ll go right to work. They will have to pass background checks and many will be put into a “green pool” where they will wait to be called to work.

The majority of the roughly 2,600 machinists in Fort Worth work eight hours Monday through Friday. Under that schedule, employees work nine days and 80 hours over two weeks by working nine-hour days the first four days of the first week and eight hours on Friday. The second week, they work four nine-hour days and get Friday off.

This story includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB

The next-generation F-35 fighter is being built by Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth for the U.S. Air Force and allies around the world.

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