WASHINGTON ― Lockheed Martin celebrated the formal opening of a new manufacturing facility in Pinellas Park, Florida yesterday to support the increasing F-35 production rate.

The facility, which is expected to create more than 80 new jobs by mid-2019, will assemble canopies and bulkheads for the F-35 Lightning II fighter.

“This is an exciting day for us in Pinellas Park,” said André Trotter, program director and general manager of the Lockheed’s Pinellas Park branch. “Continued growth and success of the F-35 program is vital to our national security. The hard-working men and women who produce critical components for the F-35 program are what make all of this possible.”

On Monday Lockheed received a $1.4 billion contract to sustain the global F-35 enterprise. The new Pinellas Park facility will contribute in Lockheed’s efforts to produce and sustain the growing F-35 fleet, totaling 1,763 aircraft in the program of record.