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NEW FIGHTER PROJECT LOCKHEED WILL UPGRADE THREE F-22S.

Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer

PALMDALE - Lockheed Martin's Palmdale plant will perform modifications on three F-22 fighters used in flight testing, adding another piece of the program to the High Desert.

The Palmdale workers will upgrade the jets' structure and electronics to make them similar to the aircraft now coming out of the production plant in Marietta, Ga. The work will involve only a handful of people and will not result in any additional hires.

However, the work will help stabilize the work force on the program. There are about 350 people working on the F-22 program in Palmdale, primarily in the manufacturing of special structural components.

``If all goes well, we could get work on as many as 10 aircraft,'' company spokeswoman Dianne Knippel said.

The Air Force wants the aircraft upgraded and sent back to Edwards Air Force Base by next year to be used for pilot training. Conducting the work in Palmdale rather than sending the aircraft back to Georgia will save the Air Force money, said Rick Baker, Lockheed Martin's general manager of the Palmdale site.

The first of the aircraft to be modified was shown Friday to a group of Antelope Valley civic leaders. The group was also shown a declassified version of an F-22 flight simulator and was run through three battle simulations - an air-to-air combat with four Russian-built fighters, a bombing run, and a battle against an integrated air defense system featuring enemy fighters and ground-to-air missiles.

The simulations highlighted the F-22's advancement over the current air-to-air superiority fighter, the F-15. The combination of stealthiness and advances in electronics and computer integration give pilots ``first look, first shot, first kill'' capability, Lockheed Martin officials said.

The Air Force wants to buy 339 F-22 fighters, which cost $99 million each.

Lockheed Martin employs close to 4,000 people in Palmdale and is steadily building up its work force. By year's end, the company will have added 420 people, officials said.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

(color in AV edition -- ran in AV and SAC edition only) A declassified version of the F-22 flight simulator is demonstrated Friday in Palmdale. At the controls is Lew Stults, field representative for U.S. Rep. Howard P. ``Buck'' McKeon's office, with instructor Dick Mather of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.

Lockheed Martin
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 13, 2002
Words:381
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