DENVER (CBS4) – Two Colorado defense contractors made their case Wednesday for building the next generation military fighter jet — the F-35.
The project would bring jobs, but the question now is can Uncle Sam afford it.
This next generation fighter jet is as controversial as it is capable.
“Why are we building the F-35?” Danny Conroy with Lockheed Martin said. “If you look at the aircraft they’re flying today, they’re getting up there in years, some of them are on life support.”
The answer, according to Lockheed Martin, is to replace aging military jets with the multi role F-35. Called the Joint Strike Fighter, it’s jammed full of advanced technology
The manufacturer provided a cockpit simulator that’s to show how easy it is to fly. Experts say different from current model fighters, the flight controls are absolutely intuitive and the pilot is wrapped in a cocoon of safety.
But it’s the cost that has critics howling. The F-35 carries a price-tag of $65 million. Plans call for building 2,400 jets.
“Well you know the issue is what are our priorities,” Rep. Mike Coffman said.
Coffman is a big fan of the F-35. He’s trying to win support by finding ways to cut costs on the plane. .
Sixty-three have already been built at a factory in Texas but it’s also a potential boon to the Colorado economy.
“We’re responsible for providing the communications, navigation and identification functions,” Ken Rockwell with Ball Aerospace said.
Ball Aerospace makes the stealth antennas on the plane. Full build-out of the F-35 program would mean hundreds of new jobs for the defense contractor. But with the Pentagon under mounting budget pressure, the question remains — will the F-35 still fly with Congress?
Ball Aerospace is one of 15 Colorado contractors with a financial stake in building the F-35.