F-35: How to build a fighter jet

How It Works visits the Texan F-35 factory that builds stealth fighters for the USA and the world

Just a short drive away from Dallas, Texas is the town of Fort Worth, home to the massive and super-secure facility where one of the world’s most advanced fighter jets is built.

Lockheed Martin has thousands of people working here around the clock on the F-35s. In fact, about 18,000 employees work in the aeronautics business in Fort Worth. It’s too many to fit on the floor at one time, so people work in shifts. There are engineers, technicians and machinists. Then there are the many people that support them as they build the plane: the cleaners, the cafeteria workers, the security personnel and so many more.

Visitors zip down the aisles in carts, carefully stopping at pedestrian crossings on the way. On either side of each aisle is a marvel of engineering – the F-35 coming together, piece by piece; wings, cockpits, tail fins, fuselage. Electronic screens mounted above each F-35 show what country it’s destined for, and how well the workers are meeting their deadlines.

It’s an awe-inspiring sight to see something so technologically advanced being assembled before your eyes. Towards the end, the green-hued body transforms into grey sophistication in the painting room, where two car-sized machines called Thor and Zeus assist workers with the delicate work…

This article was originally published in How It Works issue 120, written by Laura Mears 

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