Aerospace vendors and industry enthusiasts will descend on South Carolina’s capital this week for the fourth annual S.C. Aerospace Conference and Expo.
The conference, held Tuesday through Thursday, will meet at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
This year’s conference features speakers from the business to education and government sectors, such as State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman and Gov. Henry McMaster.
Wednesday is by far the biggest day of the conference, starting with opening remarks from state Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt; Susie Shannon, president and CEO of S.C. Council on Competitiveness; and Joan Gabel, executive vice president of academic affairs and provost for the University of South Carolina.
McMaster will give the keynote address, followed by industry-specific speakers related to Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones.
On Wednesday afternoon, Don Erickson, site director of Lockheed Martin’s Greenville facility, plans to discuss the air defense company’s move of F-16 fighter jet production to Greenville from the Fort Worth, Texas, facility.
Lockheed officials in March confirmed the company will transition F-16 production to the Greenville facility at the S.C. Technology and Aviation Center, or SCTAC.
Leslie Farmer, spokesperson for Lockheed’s Greenville site, told The Greenville News earlier this year the last F-16 from Fort Worth will be delivered in September, and take about two years for the company to get production going in Greenville.
The transition is excepted to add up to 200 jobs, but there are possible opportunities to add more, Erickson told The News.
Still ongoing is Lockheed’s battle for a contract to build a new training jet for the U.S. Air Force.
Though not on Wednesday’s program, Erickson could mention the $8 billion to $10 billion business deal, which could held land another hundred competitive-wage jobs at the Greenville facility over the next decade.
Lockheed entered the U.S. Air Force Advanced Training Pilot Program in 2016 with its T-50A fighter jet, developed with Korea Aerospace Industries, or KAI, to train pilots to fly F-16, F-22 and F-35 fighter planes.
The U.S. Air Force is expected to award the contract by the year’s end or early 2018.