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This Forsyth County company is creating parts for the “most lethal” fighter jet in history
L3Harris, a manufacturer of panoramic cockpit displays for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, held a ceremony on Wednesday at the company's south Forsyth location to celebrate the 1,000th display delivered. - photo by Ben Hendren

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, a stealth multirole fighter jet, is a state-of-the-art piece of military equipment being developed by 13 nations, is the most expensive contract ever given out by the U.S. Department of Defense and is expected to be used by the U.S. and allies for more than 50 years.

But as the capabilities of the jet were being shown Tuesday afternoon, no cheer was louder from the crowd than the fact that the 1,000th panoramic cockpit display (PCD) had been delivered to Lockheed.

The displays are produced by L3Harris, who was celebrating the milestone at the company’s south Forsyth location. The company has been in the county for more than 40 years. 

“It’s, if you will, a single large area monolithic display. It provides all of the flight critical information, control systems that the pilot would have to interact with, like communications, navigation systems,” said Bryant Henson, president of the Mission Avionics Sector for L3Harris Space and Airborne Systems.

“It provides complete situational awareness, so in layman’s terms, if you were in the seat of a jet, it’s the thing that would give you complete situational awareness as you’re operating the aircraft.”

According to the F-35 program’s website, the jet will feature “advanced stealth capabilities with fighter aircraft speed and agility, fully-fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced logistics and sustainment.”

“The F-35 is the most lethal, survivable and connectable fighter jet in the world,” Henson said. “It is the backbone of allied power for 13 nations and our coalition forces. Technologically, the aircraft combines fifth-generation stealth, avionics and logistic support with the most powerful integrated sensor package of any fighter jet in history.”

Henson said more than 300 employees of L3Harris, along with officials from Lockheed and other members of the community, were present for the ceremony.

“Our capabilities span air, ground, sea, space and cyber domains for customers in more than 100 countries,” he said. “As part of that, our Alpharetta team delivers advanced displays and processors for defense programs around the globe. That technology allows our military members to manage their missions with unmatched awareness, accuracy and provides a competitive edge on the battlefield.”

Drew Ruiz – Lockheed Martin’s vice president for F-35 supply chain – told those in attendance that the 500th jet would be produced in March and said employees should pride themselves on being a part of one of the “largest DOD contracts in history.”

“It’s the most capable jet that we’ve ever had in the air,” Ruiz said. “The Air Force calls it the quarterback, and it’s because of the sweep of the communications that you guys are a part of. You’re on F-35.”