The F-35 Joint Program Office has awarded the Lockheed Martin industry team a $1.28 billion Undefinitised Contract Action (UCA) to support operations and sustainment of the global F-35 fleet through 30 June 2021.
The UCA provides initial critical sustainment activities for a worldwide fleet while negotiations continue on a long-term contract to build enterprise capacity and affordability to support the future fleet of more than 3,000 F-35 aircraft.
The UCA funds industry sustainment experts supporting operations worldwide, individual bases, depot maintenance, pilot and maintainer training, and sustainment engineering across the globe.
It also covers fleet-wide data analytics and supply chain management for part repair and replenishment to enhance overall supply availability.
Bill Brotherton, Lockheed Martin F-35 program acting vice president and general manager explained, “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 F-35 Joint Program Office, together with each US Service, international operators and the F-35 industry team, leads F-35 sustainment and the Global Support Solution.
Lockheed Martin and industry teammates BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman provide critical sustainment support for over 600 aircraft in key areas such as training, base operations, repairs, global supply, and sustainment support to F-35 customers.
While many think of sustainment as all of the activity after aircraft delivery, it actually begins the moment a requirement is written and design starts. The fifth generation F-35 is designed and produced with mission readiness and the warfighter's success in mind.
The F-35's reliability continues to improve, and newer production aircraft are averaging greater than 70 per cent mission capable rates, with some operational squadrons consistently near 75 per cent.
Cost per flight hour has decreased by more than 40 per cent during the last five years.
To further improve readiness and cost stability, the 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.
More than 600 F-35 aircraft have been delivered and are operating from 26 bases around the globe. More than 1,200 pilots and 10,000 maintainers have been trained, and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 345,000 cumulative flight hours.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 110,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.
For the RAAF, the F-35A's combination of full-spectrum low-observable stealth coatings and materials, advanced radar-dispersing shaping, network-centric sensor and communications suites – combined with a lethal strike capability – means the aircraft will be the ultimate force multiplying, air-combat platform.
The F-35A – the variant chosen by the RAAF – will have with a projected life of 30 years in service.
Over the coming years, Australia will purchase 72 of the advanced fifth-generation fighter aircraft as part of the $17 billion AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B program – which is aimed at replacing the ageing F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets that have been in service with the RAAF since 1985.