The Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Air Show reminds us of our community’s proud support for America’s military, and the importance of our military both to national defense and our local economy.
Because of this impact, I led an effort for the South Carolina House and Senate to pass resolutions supporting the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and our county and city councils have joined us in clearly declaring their approval.
Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort is one of the only bases in the country to house the F-35, and more squadrons are coming.
It is not only one of the first bases in the country to house the F-35, it is also home to a new state-of-the-art training facility, the only one of its kind training pilots on the F-35B. The center features electronic classrooms and full mission simulators, allowing pilots to become fully prepared to utilize the aircraft’s technology.
Because the F-35 has rightly been called the “world’s most advanced aircraft,” it is exciting to have Beaufort chosen as a home for these cutting-edge fighter jets and an international hub for pilot training.
America’s closest allies are helping to develop, and are buying, F-35s, which is important to our Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy working together with Australia, Canada, Britain, Korea and Japan, among others. Since these countries are purchasing F-35s, international sales of the fighter are also important to the economic model, making the F-35 more affordable to American taxpayers.
To date, more than 300 pilots and 3,000 maintenance people have been trained on the F-35.
This is exactly why it’s critical to our nation’s future, as well as the economy of our state.
Currently, there are 26 F-35Bs stationed in Beaufort.
Not only is the F-35 having major impact in Beaufort, it is becoming a driving force in South Carolina’s growing aviation and aerospace industries. Eleven supplier companies in South Carolina provide parts for the F-35 program, and they represent 350 jobs and a $30 million impact. Lockheed Martin also has more than 100 employees supporting the F-35 training facility here, too.
Our state is becoming a popular choice for defense industry manufacturers because we have a great workforce, low cost of doing business and large-scale military installations.
It’s important, then, for Beaufort County and for South Carolina that our federal government fully supports the F-35 program. It keeps our military at the leading edge of technology and provides an increasing economic boost to the entire Palmetto State.
Beaufort can be very proud it’s the home of these amazing aircraft, and the training center for the pilots and workers who will operate them successfully. We have received a wonderful vote of confidence in our community.
This weekend, I am joining other elected leaders from our area in presenting resolutions of support for the F-35. I hope you’ll be able to make it to the MCAS Beaufort Air Show on April 29-30.
When we fly the F-35 from Beaufort, we fly for freedom and flag.
Shannon Erickson of Beaufort represents state House District 124.