Lockheed Martin celebrates 20 years in Pinellas Park

U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist tries out the cockpit simulator for the F-35 Lightning II at Lockheed Martin Aeronautic’s special event commemorating its 20 years in Pinellas Park.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Pinellas Park satellite facility with a commemoration event Aug. 22.

U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist, D-FL-13), and other federal, state and local officials joined Lockheed Martin for its 20th anniversary festivities, which included opportunities to fly the F-35 Lightning II cockpit simulator.

The event highlighted the site’s role in the production of the F-35. The facility manufactures canopies and bulkheads for the aircraft, said Andre Trotter, program director and general manager of the Pinellas Park facility, which currently employees around 250 people.

“The F-35 program plays a role in protecting freedom across the world,” he said. “It’s a very important part of our national security and also the Pinellas [County] economy.”

The facility also refurbishes and repairs F-16 wings and canopies, and manufactures parts for other planes, including the C-130 military cargo plane and its commercial variant, the LM-100J.

As a satellite site, these parts are shipped to larger facilities – Fort Worth, Texas; Marietta, Georgia; and Greenville, South Carolina – for final assembly, Trotter said.

“We support multiple sites with our parts,” he said.

Trotter also announced during the 20th anniversary event that Lockheed Martin has plans to grow in Pinellas Park as it expands its F-35 program. This means the facility will add between 80 and 100 new employees within the next two years.

“It’s very exciting for us,” he said.

Lockheed Martin has moved into a 60,000-square-foot former FedEx space located across the highway from its current location on 28th Street North. The company is transforming the building’s interior to accommodate its planned growth and will host a ribbon cutting for the new manufacturing space in March, Trotter said.

This new space is in addition to its current twin facility complex with approximately 319,000 square feet, he added.

Building 1 at this facility opened in August 1997. Building 2 began operations in 2012.

“Twenty years in such a wonderful community has been great for us,” Trotter said. “Many of our employees live and work here in Pinellas [County], so it’s important for us to understand the economic impact here.”