How the F-35 fighter jet is helping a Wichita supplier expand, add jobs

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect address for Globe’s new manufacturing facility.

When Jeff Teague joined Globe Engineering 30 years ago, his first job was to manufacture a part for what was then a new fighter jet, the F-16.

Three decades later, Teague is leading a company whose recent expansion and job growth is driven by the newest fighter jet, Lockeed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II.

On Wednesday, Lockheed Martin marked the Wichita aircraft supplier’s expansion by bringing its F-35 Cockpit Demonstrator to Globe’s recently completed 78,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at 3505 S. Maize Road. The event was attended by some of Globe’s 225 employees and officials from Fort Worth-based Lockheed as well as local, state and federal elected leaders.

While the cockpit demonstrator received most of the event’s attention, the message from it was about the Joint Strike Fighter’s impact on the local economy and more specifically Globe, which has added 25 employees because of the F-35.

The new building and jobs “investment was made in large part because of the F-35,” Teague said in his opening remarks.

Teague said the F-35 work — his company supplies 600 parts to the jet that’s used by the Air Force, Navy and Marines — accounts for $8 million in annual sales at Globe.

But its economic impact doesn’t stop there. According to Lockheed, 33 suppliers in Kansas provide parts for the F-35, and it contributes more than $161 million annually to Kansas’ economy. Of those 33 primary suppliers, Lockheed officials said, 24 of them are in the state’s 14-county Fourth Congressional District, which includes the five-county Wichita metro area.

Lockheed also said 1,880 direct and indirect jobs in Kansas are “tied” to the F-35.

Teague said he hopes the event underscored to elected leaders attending, including U.S. Rep. Ron Estes and Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell, the impact of the program to his company and other suppliers in the area.

“They need to know how important it is business wise,” Teague said.

The F-35 program is expected to have some longevity to it. Glenn Klassa, Lockheed’s director for the Marine Corps Joint Strike Fighter Program, said in his remarks that 310 of the airplanes have already been delivered. About 2,500 are expected to be acquired by the three U.S. service branches, while another 800 are anticipated to be purchased by other nations.

Teague said he hopes the F-35’s longevity at Globe mimics the F-16s. Globe continues to manufacture the F-16 part Teague first worked on.

“My vision is the next generation will be building F-35 parts for the next 30 years,” he said.

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark