Lockheed Martin awarded $1.28bn F-35 sustainment contract

Lockheed Martin announced on January 6 that it has been awarded a US$1.28bn contract to support the operation and sustainment of the global F-35 Lightning II fleet until June 30, 2021.

The undefinitised contract action (UCA) was awarded to Lockheed Martin by the F-35 Joint Program Office and provides critical sustainment activities for the world’s growing F-35 fleet. The company adds that negotiations are ongoing regarding a longer-term contract that will support the world’s future Lightning II fleet, which will constitute more than 3,000 aircraft.

F-35A [Lockheed Martin]
There are three variants of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighter family: the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL)-configured F-35A; the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL)-capable F-35B and the F-35C carrier variant (CV). Lockheed Martin

This UCA will be used to fund industry sustainment experts that are supporting the operations of the fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighter across the world. These professionals also support the individual bases, depot maintenance, pilot and maintainer training, and sustainment engineering services that are associated with the Lightning II. Lockheed Martin adds that the UCA also covers the F-35’s fleet-wide data analytics and supply chain management service to enhance the overall availability of spares/repair parts.

Bill Brotherton, the acting vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 programme, said: “This contract ensures F-35s remain ready to fly and accomplish the warfighter’s mission. We continue to see improvements in readiness and cost, and as the fleet grows, so does the opportunity for the joint government and industry team to collaborate, realising even more long-term benefits.”

The company, along with industry partners BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman, currently provide critical sustainment support services for the global F-35 fleet. Notably, these three firms help F-35 customers with training, base operations, repairs, global supply and sustainment.

F-35A [Lockheed Martin]
Lockheed Martin has so far delivered examples of the F-35 to the military air arms of Australia, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, the UK and the US. The platform is also being sought by Belgium, Denmark, Poland and Singapore. It could also see service with Canada, Finland and Switzerland, depending on the result of their national next-generation fighter procurement competitions. Greece has also announced its intention to acquire the type. Lockheed Martin

In a press release, Lockheed Martin added: “To further improve readiness and cost stability, the [F-35] enterprise is conducting supply chain competitions and building supply capacity, synchronising spare buys, improving parts reliability and maintainability, implementing advanced analytics tools, accelerating modifications of earlier aircraft, and supporting the stand-up of government-led regional warehouses and repair depots.”

Lockheed Martin states that more than 600 F-35 aircraft (across all three variants) have been delivered to customers across the world. The platform is currently operated from 26 air bases and more than 1,200 pilots and 10,000 maintainers have been trained on the type. The Lightning II fleet has so far flown more than 345,000 cumulative flight hours.