How North Texas Is Strengthening Our National Security Abroad

Today, June 22, Lockheed Martin will roll out the first Israel-bound F-35 in my hometown of Fort Worth, Texas. This important day fortifies our nation's strong alliance with Israel and will ensure our global security.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Congressional Joint Strike Fighter Caucus, I have been a staunch supporter of the production of the F-35 since day one and understand the importance of its production for my fellow Texans and our nation's security. For Texas, the production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has brought approximately 40,000 jobs and more than $3 billion dollars into our local economy. As the economic benefits continue to accrue, the roll-out of the first Israel-bound F-35 will serve as a major milestone which will spearhead an integrated security approach between the United States and our allies.

In 2010, Israel became the first U.S. ally to select the F-35. Our allies in Europe, North America, and Asia will fly F-35 aircraft as well. In the coming years, Israel intends to purchase a total of 33 F-35 aircraft to replace older technology. As part of this acquisition, Israel Aerospace Industries will produce wings for hundreds of F-35s out of their production facility in Israel.

As a further example of U.S.-Israeli defense cooperation, here in North Texas, Elbit Systems of America, the Fort Worth-based subsidiary of Israel's Elbit Systems, played a key role in the development of the F-35 Helmet Mounted Display System. Elbit Systems has been working jointly with Iowa-based Rockwell Collins to create the technology for this critical component of the F-35.

The F-35 Helmet Mounted Display System puts critical information on the visor, allowing the pilot to have complete situational awareness. As the key node for controlling the airplane, the helmet is connected to the seeker in the missile. With a simple turn of the head, the pilots can easily move their missiles. American military pilots can now more successfully target the enemy and evade enemy fire, meaning more successful missions and more American pilots returning home safely. Joint development of this helmet is tangible proof of how Israel provides critical expertise to help keep our nation safe.

With all that said, the Middle East is once again in turmoil. Iran remains committed to regional dominance by supporting proxies in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Gaza and test-launching long-range ballistic missiles. ISIL controls large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria while trying to destabilize our allies in Jordan and Egypt as its followers commit terrorist attacks around the globe. Hezbollah is rearming on Israel's northern border, and now has an arsenal of 150,000 rockets. This is a time for strengthening ourselves and working together with our closest allies in a tumultuous region.

The joint efforts we are engaged in with Israel on the F-35 helmets demonstrate how our two countries must work in coordination in order to protect our nations from global threats. As the United States and Israel negotiate a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding American military aid to Israel, it is vital that we remember how important the U.S.-Israel partnership is to North Texas, our local economy, and to our national defense. These F-35 planes incorporate the best of American manufacturing and Israeli technology and represent a partnership which will keep both of our countries safe for years to come.