Promising the Sky: Pork Barrel Politics and the F-35 Combat Aircraft Reply

By William D. Hartung January 2014

Promising the Sky: Pork Barrel Politics and the F-35 Combat Aircraft

A Publication of the Center for International Policy


Executive Summary

Lockheed Martin claims that the development and construction of the F-35 combat aircraft sustains 125,000

jobs in 46 states. The company describes the F-35 as “the single largest job creator in the Department of Defense

program.” Lockheed Martin’s numbers have been routinely reported in the media, and have become a

mainstay of the debate over the fate of the F-35 program.

There’s just one problem with Lockheed Martin’s assertions about F-35 job creation. They are greatly exaggerated,

as documented in this report:

•Lockheed Martin’s claim of 125,000 F-35-related jobs is roughly double the likely number of jobs sustained

by the program. The real figure, based on standard estimating procedures used in other studies in the

field, should be on the order of 50,000 to 60,000 jobs.

•Similarly, the company’s claim that there is significant work being done on the F-35 in 46 states does not

hold up to scrutiny. Even by Lockheed Martin’s own estimates, just two states – Texas and California – account

for over half of the jobs generated by the F-35. The top five states, which include Florida, Connecticut

and New Hampshire – account for 70% of the jobs (see appendix Table 2 for further details).

•Eleven states have fewer than a dozen F-35-related jobs, a figure so low that it is a serious stretch to count

them among the 46 states doing significant work on the program. These states are Iowa, South Dakota,

Montana, West Virginia, Delaware, Nebraska, North Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana and Wyoming.

•This study identifies 138 major F-35 contractors operating in 231 separate locations. Well over half of the

contractors identified – 88 – were foreign companies conducting F-35 work outside of the United States.

This does not necessarily indicate that a majority of the work on the plane is being done overseas, but it

does suggest substantial outsourcing of F-35 work (for details see appendix tables 3 and 4). Countries with

the most identified production sites include Italy (36), Australia (30), the United Kingdom (24) and Turkey

(12). The United Kingdom is the largest participant in terms of sheer amount of production, but the work is

concentrated in fewer sites than in some other countries mentioned.

•There is also evidence indicating that Northrop Grumman and Honeywell have used or produced F-35 components

in China – including specialized magnets and sensor components – in violation of U.S. laws banning

the use of Chinese parts in U.S. defense equipment. The companies assert that they have stopped using

Chinese parts, but this issue will bear watching as production of the F-35 moves forward.

To read more of the report see the rest here.


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