ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The F-35 Lightning II two is the most advanced military aircraft in the world. And they couldn't be flying without parts made right here in Rockford.
Lockheed Martin brought it's F-35 Cockpit Demonstrator on Monday to UTC Aerospace Systems, formerly known as Hamilton Sundstrand. UTC Aerospace is a key supplier for the F-35 Lightning II. In fact it's employees at UTC that design and manufacture the electrical power generation and conversion system, as well as, the pumps and gearbox for the F-15 engine. Local U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos and Adam Kinzinger were both in Rockford as the F-35 Lightning II was showcased. And both spoke of the 2,000 Illinois jobs tied to the F-35 program.
"America's always been the leader in aerospace and we're going to continue to be. And we need to continue to press home those advantages. And so whether it's defense or whether it's actually aerospace the Rockford area is the leading edge on that," Kinzinger said.
"We're a major hub in the United States for aerospace manufacturing. So we already have the workforce here, we've already got the manufacturing in place. What I'd like to do is make sure we focus on going from being in the top ten in aerospace manufacturing to even moving up a few notches and we have everything in place right here to make that happen," Bustos said.
The F-35 Program has more than 1,400 suppliers in 46 states and accounts for nearly $17 billion in total economic impact.