AUSTIN (KXAN) - Rolling out a new fighter jet is a rare thing. Lockheed Martin is proud to unveil their new F-35 Lighting II being built and assembled in Fort Worth, Texas for the Navy, Marines and Air Force.
The company had an F-35 simulator on display at the Texas Tribune Festival over the weekend to educate Texans about the fifth generation fighter.
Former Air Force fighter pilot Tony Stutts trains pilots on the simulator. He has faced enemy fire while flying the older F-16.
"The F-35 takes the leap of technology two-fold, three-fold," said Stutts, the Simulation Test Director with Lockheed Martin.
Stutts said missions that were once a challenge will now be much easier. The biggest game changer is stealth technology.
"I can get in a lot closer to a threat without them detecting us," said Stutts. "Back in the F-16 and in the Legacy airplanes we could never get close to threats."
For the first time six cameras are mounted around the outside of the jet. The video feeds show up inside the visor of the pilot's $50,000 helmet giving them a 360 degree view.
"There is no one that wants their son or daughter, niece or nephew, grandson or granddaughter to go into a situation as a pilot that's parody. You want to have dominance 100-percent," said Eric Fox, Director of Government Affairs for Lockheed Martin.
And most of the data the pilot needs to know is now condensed onto two touch screens in front of them in the cockpit.
Right now the company is producing two to three F-35 jets a month. The price tag for one jet is $98 million which should be coming down.
"We are quite confident if we get up to the ramp rate of building one a business day we'll be able to meet our goal which is in the $80 million range which is where we need this airplane to be in the future to build a quality product taxpayers expect," said Fox.
There are around 100 F-35's flying right now, though none have been used in combat. The Marines were the first to start training with them.
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