McCrory flies F-35 simulator, vows to keep fighting for military

Published: Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 04:53 PM.

“These pilots are just first rate,” he said. “It just shows you in doing the simulator that this is something that you’ve got to have a great amount of technical skills, flying skills and frankly, almost athletic skills and hand-eye coordination. These are racecar drivers in the sky going at Mach speeds.”

McCrory’s visit to Lockheed Martin was part of a two-day tour in Washington where he said he emphasized the important role that the state plays in the nation’s defense, and that includes work on the F-35.

“We have eight companies in North Carolina that are making parts for the F-35 along with smaller companies in the supply chain,” McCrory said. “This is not just helping the Cherry Point area. It’s helping all of North Carolina because of all the different supply companies and also the parts that are being made within eight companies in North Carolina, so there’s benefit to the entire state in addition to the incredible amount of personnel it will take to support the squadrons and the upkeep and maintenance of that incredible fighter airplane.”

Critics of the F-35 program point to its ever increasing costs as well as some technical issues, but McCrory said he felt confident those issues were being addressed.

“I think they are going through a period of a lot of learning and training, and by the way the simulator is helping in that effort,” he said.

Cherry Point is expected to be the home base of six Marine Corps F-35 squadrons beginning in 2021-22, and the Fleet Readiness Center East maintenance and repair facility on the base is already doing modifications on the new jets, with more work expected as the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps transition to the aircraft.

He said Cherry Point’s future looked bright, despite planned military force reductions.

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