An F/A-18 Super Hornet lands on the USS George Washington. Courtesy of Boeing

The hits keep coming for California. Over the past year, COVID-19 and devastating wildfires have wreaked havoc on our state — damaging businesses and families. They’ve also knocked back the California economy.

The immediate impact of COVID-19 and the lasting effects of the fires have been brutal for business owners. The long-term prospects don’t look better. 

One of the hardest hit industries has been aerospace. In California, the aerospace industry accounts for more than half a million jobs, produces more than $62 billion in annual economic activity, and generates more than $7 billion in state and local taxes annually. In fact, the aerospace sector in California generates more revenue that Hollywood and agriculture combined.

In addition, the California legislature recently took action against research and development provisions that help keep California-based manufacturing and technology businesses operational. With so many roadblocks in the way of a successful recovery, it’s critical that California’s congressional leaders support programs that continue to keep Californians working and businesses open.

That includes our nation’s F/A-18 Super Hornet program, led by Boeing.   

The F/A-18 Super Hornet is a tactical naval aircraft that can be utilized as a fighter and an attack aircraft. It was the first tactical aircraft designed to carry out air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.

California is home to all of the United States Navy’s west coast Super Hornet squadrons, which are based at Naval Air Station Lemoore. The design, engineering, and technical support components of the aircraft create an estimated $1 billion in annual economic impact for the state, as well as support approximately 20,000 jobs. Hundreds of small- and medium-sized businesses in California provide services for the Super Hornet program. 

Californians have worked on this innovative aircraft for years to upgrade its capabilities in order to meet the challenges of today while also keeping an eye on future needs. Having started my career in the Navy before spending more than 50 years in civil and defense aviation, I’ve witnessed first-hand how important platforms like the F/A-18 are to our nation’s defense.

The technology built into the new Super Hornet can be updated as needs change, keeping the aircraft relevant. This is especially important given the pressure and reliance on the current fleet, the growing threats from nations like China and Russia, and the time it takes to manufacture and deliver completely new aircraft. 

Programs like the Super Hornet are bright spots in a dismal economic landscape. Not only does our economy rely on these jobs but our military depends on platforms like the F/A-18 to safely conduct their missions.

As our friends and neighbors continue the difficult task of caring for themselves and their loved ones, rebuilding their businesses and financial futures, and struggling to find or sustain employment, it’s critical that our leaders support programs that work for California. The Super Hornet is one such program and it’s important to continue it. 

Corona resident Pastor Roosevelt Jackson began his aviation career in 1963 when he joined Douglas Aircraft after serving in the Navy. Over the next 50 years, Pastor Jackson worked with commercial and defense suppliers and served as program inspector for various defense programs. In addition to his professional experience, Pastor Jackson has dedicated his life to ministry and supporting others.

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