Lockheed Martin in Meridian to celebrate production of new jet fighter components
NEW JET FIGHTER n Meridian's Lockheed Martin is producing vertical stabilizers for the Air Force's new F-22 Raptor. Submitted photo
By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Feb. 24, 2001
Local dignitaries and corporate officials are expected to converge today on Lockheed Martin's Meridian plant to officially recognize the company's rollout of components for the Air Force's newest jet fighter, the F-22 Raptor.
U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., and former Rep. G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery are among political and community leaders invited to attend, helping recognize completion of the first operational vertical stabilizers made for the F-22 at the Meridian plant.
The stabilizers, which are located on the plane's tail section, resemble "fins" and work to steady the plane during flight. The plant was awarded the contract to build the stabilizers in August 2000.
Pickering said the 120-employee plant recently celebrated its 30th year in Meridian and the state's congressional delegation believes the company's future here will be strengthened even further by the manufacturing of F-22 parts.
The festivities set to take place today will be for Lockheed Martin employees and invited guests. Several Lockheed Martin officials are expected, including President Dain Hancock.
As part of the event, an F-22 simulator will be present, along with two large model displays of the plane and a pilot, who will be on hand to sign lithographs of the aircraft. Food and beverages will also be provided for the guests.
The Raptor is scheduled to replace the F-15 Eagle as the Air Force's most lethal jet fighter. The aircraft combines stealth technology with an advanced avionics software package to give the plane unparalleled first-strike and first-kill advantages in air-to-air combat situations.
According to the Air Force, the plane will be virtually unseen on radar and will have the ability to initiate surprise combat techniques from long ranges.
The plane is expected to become operational for the Air Force in 2005.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.