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Walorski tries out F-35 cockpit simulator during Arconic visit

August 2, 2018

La PORTE — U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-District 2, flew the F-35 cockpit simulator during a visit to Arconic La Porte Operations on Wednesday.

Walorski joined employees, local officials, and select community members at the La Porte Arconic location to receive an update on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft and the production program’s impact on Indiana and U.S. economies.

During her visit, Walorski “flew” the F-35 cockpit simulator and got a realistic look at how the F-35’s advanced stealth, agility, and integrated information systems work. The F-35 features a sensor fusion system that allows it to collect, analyze and share data from its environment with the pilot, base and ships. This data gathering system eliminates many steps and allows the pilot to make quicker and more accurate decisions in the cockpit.

“Our brave men and women in uniform need the best tools and most advanced technology to keep them safe and help them succeed in their missions,” Walorski said. “Today at Arconic’s La Porte facility, I saw firsthand how the cutting-edge F-35 program supports our service members, protects our national security, and strengthens our local economy. As Congress continues working to rebuild our military, I’m grateful the hardworking Hoosiers here play such a critical role in ensuring the safety and security of the American people.”

For the F-35 fighter, the La Porte facility pours superalloy metal to form complex-shaped engine components, called stators, that direct and control airflow through the engine, turbine exhaust cases that contain the outflow of hot gases and several other structural engine components.

Arconic La Porte Operations was established in 1957 and currently employs 825 trained operators and engineers. Its main production focus is supplying the passenger jet and military markets, as well as the industrial gas turbine power generation market, with quality castings.

Arconic has invested more than $400,000 in community initiatives over the past four years and sponsors a number of STEM initiatives for students within our community.

“The employees and suppliers such as Arconic are the back-bone of the F-35 program’s success,” said Robert Rubino, deputy director of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Program.

Arconic La Porte Operations is one of 12 suppliers for Lockheed Martin within Indiana and, according to Rubino, the F-35 program has had a $227 million economic impact across Indiana. The F-35 Program is reported to have a $31 billion annual economic impact nationally.

“It means great jobs in our district. It means great jobs in the state of Indiana and to always have our hands going and the next generation forward,” said Walorski.

As of July 2, there have been 305 F-35 aircrafts have been delivered to 15 bases worldwide. The F-35 family includes three variants, the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant, F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing variant, and the F-35C carrier variant.

The three variants have a program cost of $94.3 million, $122.4 million, and $121.2 million respectively. Lockheed Martin’s goal is to reduce the cost of an F-35A to $80 million by 2020 through increased production and additional improvements.

Mayor Mark Krentz, La Porte Community School Corp. Superintendent Mark Francesconi and State Rep. Jim Pressel, R-Rolling Prairie, were a few of the La Porte officials and community leaders present. All three took a turn in the F-35 cockpit demonstrator, even Francesconi who admitted he, “doesn’t play video games.”

Pressel described the simulator as “really fun.”

“I shot two airplanes down and moved around a little bit, couple barrel rolls. Yeah, it was awesome,” Pressel said.

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