To the Editor:

Ohio has long celebrated its aviation heritage, even featuring the Wright Flyer and Neil Armstrong on the back of its state quarter.

That innovative spirit, grit and hardworking nature has made those achievements into a thriving aerospace industry. Ohio has an aerospace and defense ecosystem of more than 550 aerospace and aviation organizations. We are a leader in aircraft engine and parts manufacturing, and now launching innovations in urban air mobility and autonomous aviation systems.

This modern materials and next generation manufacturing and development is a testament to our adaptability and represents a significant opportunity for economic growth. One military program that will be a key driver of that economic growth is the F-35 Lightning II.

There are nearly 50 suppliers for the F-35 in Ohio, all over the state, with $545 million of annual economic impact. Just the suppliers already located in Ohio provide more than 5,270 good paying manufacturing jobs. The United States will always need the best military equipment to keep us safe and protect those who serve, and we should always build that equipment here in Ohio. Supporting the F-35 program should be an easy, non-partisan issue for state leadership.

However, just supporting what we already have isn’t good enough: we need to plan for Ohio’s future.

Just like we need the good paying jobs that the F-35 program supports, we need to support basing the F-35 in Ohio, too. Ohio is home to one of the largest state Air National Guard and our citizens must have the best equipment.

The 180th Fighter Wing in Toledo is an obvious place to station these fifth-generation aircraft. This mission in Toledo would create jobs, protect our guard base, and support our communities just by bringing the F-35 to Ohio, where so many of the components are already manufactured.

The F-35 supply chain requires a highly skilled workforce, and Ohio is well positioned for its production and expansion. It can also serve as a cornerstone of our expanding aerospace and military sector.

It’s time for all elements of the state to come together at the local, state and federal levels to bring the F-35 to the 180th FW, enabling our members of the air guard to continue keeping the entire nation safe.

John M. Sankovic

Ph.D, president and CEO, the Ohio Aerospace Institute