"Having that assignment to industry early has enabled us to prepare ourselves and work in conjunction with Defence, and so they actually have an obvious partner to go to, to talk about the different issues and risks that have to be managed," BAE Systems aerospace director Steven Drury told Defence Connect.
"We don't even know yet exactly what's going to be needed on the aircraft when they first turn up, because they're not meant to be in the depot straightaway."
Drury said the choice of BAE Systems for the contract was in part due to the firm’s existing maintenance assignment for the Hawk aircraft.
"They think that's the lowest risk option," he explained. "They believe that you are capable and you have the right culture to provide the cost effectiveness … but it's not a life-long contract, you then have to produce exactly what it is they're expecting of you."
"You're going to be internationally benchmarked," Drury added. "The Japanese and the South Koreans will be wanting this value for money as well, and there's Europe picking winners over in Italy, and they'll be doing the same things."
Drury said part of the team’s success was in having major international clients understand who's actually doing the right things for depot maintenance on F-35s.
"Just like we're doing on the Hawk, where we've saved the government tens and tens of millions of dollars over the years, we'll be doing exactly the same thing for F-35, so they have no reason to look elsewhere," he said.