Citing the importance and need for local aerospace companies, Lockheed Martin invited Rep. Mike Garcia to the Woodward Inc. campus on Tuesday to discuss the F-35 Lightning II Program — a military fighter jet that has many components constructed and manufactured in the Santa Clarita Valley.
During the event, Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, was given a tour of the facility, made some brief comments and then concluded the presentation by participating in an F-35 simulator demonstration.
“Our district relies on aerospace and defense like no other congressional district in the nation,” said Garcia. “I think ours probably has more, than any other, jobs and more revenue (in the aerospace and defense industry) and it really is the economic backbone of not only Santa Clarita, but also the Antelope Valley, Palmdale, Lancaster as well as the surrounding areas in the San Fernando Valley.”
Garcia said one can’t overstate the level of economic impact programs such as the F-35 Lightning Program have locally, and it’s important for the community to pay attention to the local aerospace industry and defense programs.
As of Aug. 1, more than 825 F-35 planes have been delivered by Lockheed Martin with more than 14 services across the globe, including the United States, using the $80 million jet.
As for Woodward’s role in the creation of the F-35, the company’s roughly 630 local employees help to develop various components that are used to create the jet, including parts that assist with the steering, lift fans and cooling systems.
Steven Cramer, vice president of operations and the site lead at the local Woodward facility, said that the local Santa Clarita residents were proud to aid in the national defense effort.
“All of our members are really proud to serve all the forces on the grounds, on the sea and in the air,” said Cramer. “Our facilities across the United States are very proud of this.”
Following the presentation regarding the F-35 specs, Garcia then rolled back the clock and sat down in the simulator’s unfamiliar cockpit — Garcia flew the F/A-18 strike fighter while in the Navy — and performed a demonstration for the roughly 40 people in attendance.
Woodward is an aerospace contractor that manufactures motion control systems for a wide variety of aircraft. Now owned by Colorado-based Woodward, the Valencia facility was founded as Hydraulic Research in Burbank before moving to the Valencia Industrial Center in the 1960s. Its name was later changed to HR Textron, incorporating the name of its then-parent company.
After it was acquired by Woodward from Textron in 2009, the facility was initially known as Woodward HRT.
Woodward is listed by the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp. as the SCV’s 11th largest private employer, with 721 employees. In the early 1980s, HR Textron employed as many as 1,300 and at the time was the SCV’s largest employer.