Strong state ties to new fighter jet

By:  Jeff Gebeau
The Bristol Press

Connecticut aerospace companies play a key role in the manufacture of the Marine Corps’ F-35B joint strike fighter, which was recently determined to have reached operational readiness.

The F-35B is the short-takeoff, vertical-landing model of the F-35, meaning it flies like a plane but lifts off and lands like a helicopter. The Air Force intends to have its version of the F-35, the F-35A, operationally ready in 2016, while the Navy plans to have its variant, the F-35C, at that point in 2019.

East Hartford-based Pratt & Whitney builds the F-35’s engine, the F-135, and other supply chain manufacturers in the state are involved in its construction also.

“The Marine Corps’ announcement today is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all the employees at Pratt & Whitney and the other small Connecticut businesses who took part in producing the most advanced aircraft in the world,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., in a statement last month. “Their success sends a strong statement about Connecticut’s unmatched contribution to America’s national security, and is an important reminder of the bright future in store for our aerospace industry and the highly skilled workforce that supports it.”

The Marine Corps plans to order 353 F-35Bs in the next five years.