Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin is planning to hire 1,000 workers for F-35 Lightning II fighter production at its plant in Fort Worth, Texas.
The company will hold a job fair on Aug. 29th seeking people skilled in electrical and structural assembly, aircraft mechanics and low-observable material coating. Low-observable or radar absorbent materials are a key part of the F-35s stealth design to avoid enemy radar detection.
Lockheed said it hopes to issue 800 to 1,000 letters of intent that same day out of an expected 2,000 applicants. It will be the third job fair Lockheed Martin has held for its Fort Worth facility this year.
The company currently has over 14,000 employees in the Fort Worth area with most of them involved with manufacturing the F-35.
It typically takes 22 months and nearly $100 million to produce one F-35 from start to finish. The Fort Worth plant produced 50 last year and Lockheed's goal is to boost total production to 17 F-35s a month by 2020 depending on global demand. Twelve countries including the U.S. are part of the program of record and several others have expressed interest.
The cost of producing each plane is expected to come down to around $85 million over the coming years as production ramps up.
The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th-generation stealth fighter that is expected to replace much the U.S. fighter fleet and be widely exported.
It is the most expensive weapons program in U.S. history with an estimated total cost of over $1.4 trillion during the plane's lifetime. The program has sparked controversy over its high costs and design delays.