Southeast Mich. important in plane manufacturing, U.S. defense, state leaders say
Posted By: The Detroit News on August 19, 2022. For more information, please click here to read the source article.
Defense and state leaders stressed the importance of southeast Michigan manufacturing companies at an event Friday in Macomb County highlighting the region’s role in manufacturing F-35 fighter planes.
Michigan has about 600 aerospace-related companies and employs more industrial designers than any other state, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
When the auto industry plummeted in 2008, many manufacturing companies made the switch from making tools and parts for cars to aerospace-related projects, Phil Neale, president of Models & Tools in Shelby Township, said during the event.
Models & Tools, where it was held, is one of the local manufacturing companies helping to create the F-35 plane.
Attendees at the event had the opportunity to “fly” in a F-35 cockpit simulator to demonstrate how service members can carry out their missions and safely return home.
Neale said southeast Michigan has become the largest area for aerospace engineering, generating approximately $800 million in revenue annually and providing 3,000 jobs to manufacturers and suppliers.
Macomb County also is home to Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which has been active for more than 100 years. However, leaders are concerned and mobilizing to secure its future.
Selfridge hosts a fleet of A-10 Warthog planes, which are aging out of use in favor of planes better suited for combat, such as F-35s. Congress has intervened to save the A-10s from retirement at the requests of the military, but Michigan leaders are vying for Selfridge to be named as a planned international F-35 training center.
Selfridge was passed over for the opportunity before in favor of other states, but U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain told The Detroit News on Friday she thinks the visit U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall III paid the base on July 8 opened his eyes to the state’s ability to host more aerospace endeavors.
Businesses like Models & Tools that have expertise in manufacturing since the 1970s are crucial to U.S. defense, said Edward Smith, director of F-35 business development at Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin is the contracting company that makes the F-35 planes.
“We can’t find that expertise anywhere else,” Smith said.
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