Lockheed Martin Corp. on Wednesday opened a new 57,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at its site in Pinellas Park, Fla.
The new facility will produce aircraft-canopy components for the F-35 Lightning II fighter, Lockheed Martin said.
The facility is an annex to Lockheed Martin's existing 197,000-square-foot building that has been producing structural components for more than 10 different types of aircraft since 1997.
The Pinellas Park operation began with 80 employees and has grown to its current workforce of 250 people, with additional jobs expected as the F-35 program moves toward peak production, according to the company.
The expanded facility can support production of up to 20 F-35 canopy units a month, according to Lockheed Martin.
Aircraft-canopy components include the "windshield" of the aircraft -- a clear plastic bubble -- and the frame, ejection pyrotechnics and other structures that support it.
Core competencies at the Pinellas Park facility include sheet-metal and extrusion fabrication and structural subassembly.
To date, the facility has produced components for the C-130J, F-22, F-16, C-5 and P-3, in addition to the F-35. In addition to supporting Lockheed Martin aircraft programs, the facility does work for several other companies, the company noted.
The F-35 is expected to be one of the largest military-aircraft programs in history, including thousands of aircraft to be produced for world air forces over several decades.
"The F-35 Lightning II is a fifth-generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment," the company said in a news release. "Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems."