There was so much symbolic meaning behind so many elements of Wednesday’s ceremony at the big Lockheed Martin Aeronautics plant in Fort Worth that it took on thunderous proportions.
The nation of Israel thought so much of the event that it sent its defense minister, Avigdor Liberman, to witness the rollout of the first F-35A Lightning II multirole fighter aircraft bound for his country.
Israel is scheduled to buy 33 of the F-35 fighters built in Fort Worth, with an option for 17 more. The Pentagon is buying 2,443.
Liberman called the F-35 “the crown jewel of air power superiority” and noted that the purchase “yet again emphasizes U.S. commitment to maintaining Israel’s military superiority and Israel’s security.”
The event also marked a milestone for the supersonic stealth aircraft, beset with expensive problems during a long development cycle but, with those issues largely resolved, now taking its place on the world stage.
And for Lockheed Martin’s 13,700 employees in Fort Worth, the event was a sign of a bright future.
“I’d say the closest thing to guaranteed employment for the next 20 years is working at the F-35 plant,” Lexington Institute analyst Loren Thompson told Star-Telegram reporter Max B. Baker.