Research: Publications

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

January 22, 2014 | Report

By William D. Hartung

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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.

According to William D. Hartung, the report's author, 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.

Given the uncertainties surrounding the F-35 program, which has been identified as a possible budget-cutting target by a wide range of non-governmental and governmental bodies, it makes sense for communities that are looking to the F-35 as an important part of their economic futures to develop fallback plans that can be implemented in the event of the cancellation or scaling back of the F-35 program.


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