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Recent polling indicates that Americans’ top priorities are shifting. For months, inflation and the economy have topped voters’ minds, but with recent news about Chinese spy balloons and President Joe Biden’s visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, national security is back on the minds of voters in Lee County and across Alabama. Now more than ever, we need a robust military, particularly a strong Air Force, to deter growing international threats. The Air Force is not adequately equipped to defend against peer threats like China, according to a recent study by The Mitchell Institute. The Air Force needs more advanced aircraft in greater numbers. The bottom line: It needs more aircraft like the F-35 Lightning II fighters.
The F-35 joined the Air Force fleet years ago and is a devastatingly effective weapon. Its low observable stealth, advanced sensors and allied interoperability are unparalleled. Fifteen allied nations are flying the F-35, much to the annoyance of our adversaries, but the F-35 does not stop at air supremacy. It strengthens our economy as much as our military, with an annual economic impact of $72 billion. It keeps hundreds of thousands of people employed in good-paying, highly skilled jobs nationwide. With more than 20 direct F-35 suppliers in Alabama, creating hundreds of jobs and generating tens of millions of dollars in revenue every year, the F-35 program significantly impacts our communities in Lee County, Maxwell Air Force base and the Alabama Air National Guard.
Last year, Biden proposed cutting the F-35 program by over 30%. Thanks to leadership on both sides of the aisle, Congress rejected the president’s proposal and secured funding to keep building our most advanced fifth-generation fighter jet. If the United States hopes to maintain its dominance of the skies, Congress must do more. The global security environment is only getting worse, but the F-35 can strengthen our ability to defend ourselves while bolstering our economy and ensuring our role of advancing democracy around the world does not diminish.
I encourage our congressional delegation to fight for our men and women in uniform like never before by fully supporting the F-35 program. We need our representatives and senators to lead in Congress because a fully funded F-35 program is key to ensuring that the United States remains safe and secure with a strong and vibrant economy.
Joe Lovvorn is a state representative representing Lee County, Alabama.