Martin Knott: Maryland’s important role in the F-35 program

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By: Martin G. Knott Jr. 

Recently, the Baltimore Sun reported Maryland would lose its A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft, a staple of the State’s National Guard.  However, thanks to the leadership of our Congressional Delegation, led by Senator Barbara Mikulski, Maryland will come out on top. Maryland will regain cargo planes and the “Air Force plans to retire the A-10  “in favor of the more versatile F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.”

The F-35 Lightning II jet fighter, is an important safeguard for U.S. national security, and it’s also a project with strong ties to Maryland.

Nine F-35s are currently being tested at Pax River in St. Mary’s County – the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing model for service to the Marine Corps, and the F-35C carrier variant for the Navy. Several important testing milestones being reached at Pax like in-flight refueling and weapons testing, the base is providing a crucial service in bringing safe, combat capable aircraft to our fleet.

Not only is the aircraft being tested at NAS Patuxent River, but the program also supports more than 3,700 high-tech Maryland jobs. There are 48 companies across the state supplying parts and components for the F-35, creating an economic impact that exceeds $826 million. These companies are expanding their high-tech capabilities and their reputation in the growing aerospace sector as a result of their involvement with the F-35 program.

Maryland’s participation to the F-35 program generates significant economic benefits for the region. It is critically important that we keep Maryland companies and defense installations like Pax River involved in cutting edge, forward-looking projects like the F-35. Pax River is one of the main drivers of the Southern Maryland economy and changes to its operations could be catastrophic for local businesses, workers, and families.

Competition is fierce, and it’s important that we help our Congressional Delegation protect and expand critical projects like the F-35 at Pax River. When Maryland’s federal, state and local leaders work together on these important issues Maryland wins and we ensure that our military facilities expand in Maryland for years to come.

Maryland can be proud of its contributions to the most advanced multi-role fighter jet in the world.  The F-35 program at Pax River makes our state and nation safer, stronger, and more prosperous for years to come.

Martin G. Knott Jr. is an Entrepreneur and the Co-Owner of Knott Mechanical Inc and Wye River Technologies, and is chairman of the Maryland Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO). He is also a co-founder of Center Maryland. His email is .

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