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Cannot Afford Not To: Defense Secretary Robert Gates, noting the “huge investment” already made, reaffirmed his strong commitment to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program during his visit Monday to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 assembly plant in Fort Worth, Tex. “It is the heart of the future of tactical combat aviation for our services. So the importance of this program can hardly be overstated,” he told reporters after his site tour. Overall, Gates said he was “very impressed” by what he saw during his visit in terms of the robotics and automation on the F-35 assembly line and, perhaps most especially, the dedication of its workforce. He added that he is “excited” about the program since it appears to have surmounted the high-risk elements associated with its development. Continue