Considering its neighbor to the north, South Korea needs a strong military, a point reinforced as the first F-35 for the nation was unveiled.
At an event showcasing the Republic of Korea’s first F-35A Lighting II aircraft built by Lockheed Martin, politicians laid out just how close the country’s capital is to the border.
"The Republic of Korea is roughly the size of the state of Indiana," said U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey of TX-33. "The distance from Seoul to the (Demilitarized Zone) on the 38th parallel is the distance between Fort Worth and Denton."
The Republic of Korea will now be able to train its pilots to fly the F-35 aircraft after Wednesday’s event which had leadership from Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT), the U.S. Congress and the Korean military speak about the importance of the program. The nation is one of the 11 countries outside the U.S. that has purchased F-35s.
"Admiral Harris of the U.S. Pacific Command calls your neighbor North Korea ‘the greatest threat we face,’" said U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, speaking to members of the Korean National Assembly Defense Committee who came to Fort Worth. "That makes our peacekeeping efforts of your country’s and ours vital."
In total, Lockheed Martin will deliver 40 F-35s to the Korean Air Force with all of the aircraft being built in Fort Worth.
"At Lockheed Martin we know that strengthening national security leads to greater economic security, greater trade and opportunities for growth," said Marillyn Hewson, president and CEO of the Bethesda, Maryland-based defense contractor. Hewson was also in Fort Worth for the ceremony.
The F-35 aircraft is arguably the most important product Lockheed Martin makes, and it’s made in the company’s Fort Worth plant.
As demand increases for more of the aircraft across the globe, the company ramped up hiring at its Fort Worth plant as it hosted multiple hiring events last year in attempt to add 1,800 people at the facility. The company is the largest manufacturer by employee count in North Texas.
Largest North Texas Manufacturing Companies
Ranked by Full-time Local Employees
Rank Business Name Full-time Local Employees 1 Lockheed Martin Corp. 17,200 2 L3 Technologies 7,800 3 Raytheon Co. 7,248 View This List