The Pentagon has awarded annualised sustainment contracts to the global defence prime’s industry team.
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Sustainment contracts covering fiscal years 2021-2023 have been awarded by the F-35 Joint Program Office, which will see Lockheed Martin support the global fleet’s mission readiness over the next few years.
The annual contracts, tipped to reduce overall costs, are expected to support sustainment activities for in-service aircraft while also building enterprise capacity to support the future fleet of more than 3,000 F-35 fighter jets.
Activities include base and depot maintenance, pilot and maintainer training, and sustaining engineering for the global network.
The contracts also cover fleet-wide data analytics and supply chain management for part repair and replenishment in a bid to enhance overall supply availability for the fleet.
"Together with the F-35 Joint Program Office, we recognise the critical role the F-35 plays in supporting our customers’ global missions and the need to deliver this capability affordably,” Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager of the F-35 program said.
“These contracts represent more than a 30 per cent reduction in cost per flying hour from the 2020 annualised contract, and exemplify the trusted partnership and commitment we share to reduce sustainment costs and increase availability for this unrivaled fifth-generation weapon system.”
According to Lockheed Martin, costs per flight hour have reduced by 44 per cent in the past five years, with a forecasted reduction of an additional 40 per cent expected in the next five years.
The cost savings in the FY21-23 are hoped to be achieved through improved cost and velocity in Lockheed Martin’s supply chain, reliability improvements, and greater manpower efficiencies to provide product support solutions across the network.
The contracts are tipped to support the longer-term, performance-based logistics (PBL) agreement for the F-35 program — an industry best practice, facilitating agile sustainment solutions for the fleet and incentivising further affordability and performance results.
According to program data, the global F-35 fleet is averaging around 70 per cent mission capable rates.
Since the program commenced, over 690 aircraft have been delivered and are operating from 21 bases around the world, with more than 1,460 pilots and 11,025 maintainers trained and 430,000 cumulative flight hours surpassed.
The Commonwealth government has ordered 72 F-35A aircraft under the Joint Strike Fighter program
All 72 aircraft are expected to be fully operational by 2023, with an option to expand the fleet to a maximum of 100 aircraft.
[Related: F-35, Wedgetail pilots complete training]