Via Mark Thompson at Time’s Battleland comes a link you must click to understand the incredible staying power of the F-35 Lightning II, which has endured huge cost overruns, schedule delays, software shortfalls and other problems. But don’t look for the jet to go anywhere: Not only is it the planned centerpiece of America’s military arsenal, there’s a more practical reason — pieces of the jet come from all over the United States, as builder Lockheed Martin has depicted in a helpful, clickable map.
It’s easier to list the states that Lockheed says don’t have some role in the fighter’s production than it is to point out the ones that do: North Dakota, Wyoming, Hawaii and Oklahoma all are listed as “N/A” for economic activity — there may also be some others. But as soon as you begin mousing over Lockheed’s map of the U.S. you’ll see almost every state light up with a little window depicting how many F-35 vendors it has, and how big an effect the $380 billion program has for its economy.
Famed aerospace hubs Maine, Idaho, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico? Yep, they’re all on there, with many millions of dollars at stake in the fighter program. Lockheed itself appears to be the source of these numbers, but as the prime builder of the jet, it does probably have the best picture of all the suppliers and money on this program. The aerospace industry learned how to do this with the V-22 Osprey, which, according to defense myth, was fabled to have at least one component from all 50 states, and as such was better able to survive its often painful two decades of gestation.
Supporters of other defense programs have tried to adopt this same strategy: making sure people understand how many “small businesses,” in the politicians’ shopworn phrase, were affected when Congress or DoD considered cutbacks. Every year, a group of aircraft carrier supporters meets in Washington and then goes to tell their local members of Congress how important the Navy’s big nuclear warships are to their local economies — even though they come from places like Cleveland, Ohio, or even land-locked states in the West.
Click here to check out Lockheed’s map and see how much of the F-35 comes from your state.