It's every defence contractor's favorite statistic: the Commerce Department's formula that measures the amount of direct and indirect jobs created by an aerospace programme.
For the F-35, the total US jobs number is ... (drum roll, please) ... 127,000!
We confirmed that data point with Lockheed Martin on 11 August. But we could have just linked to Lockheed officials quoting that number in any number of places over the last month, including Tulsa, Oklahoma; Norman, Oklahoma; Rockford, Illinois and Westminster, Colorado.
Or we could have checked Lockheed's very new "Domestic Impact" page for the F-35 programme. Fun facts: The F-35 creates jobs in 47 states and Puerto Rico, the three excluded states are North Dakota, Wyoming and Hawaii, and Louisiana is apparently one of the 47 even though the F-35 contributes only $550 annually to the economy of the Bayou State. Yes, we have too much free time.
It seems likely we are seeing the beginning of a grass-roots campaign to thwart any budget-cutting exercises by spreading the word about the F-35's economic impact.
Keep in mind that Lockheed's 127,000 jobs figure is US-only. That doesn't include the programme's international partners. If that number seems inflated, that's because it includes not only the 33,000 people directly employed by the programme, but also 94,000 indirect jobs, according to Lockheed. This methodology was created by the US Department of Commerce, and is often quoted by defence contractors. Even so, it still seems high. It means that the F-35 programme alone supports more than 10% of all direct and indirect jobs created by the US aerospace industry, according to Commerce's data.
This doesn't mean that 127,000 people will suddenly lose their jobs if the programme goes away. Using the same methodology, Lockheed warned two years ago that 100,000 jobs would be lost if F-22 production was not extended. The F-22 line is scheduled to shut down next year, but Lockheed is actually adding jobs in Marrietta, Georgia, as other programmes, including C-130J, C-5M and F-35 ramp up.