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Lockheed Martin has been awarded a US$1.28Bn Undefinitised Contract Action (UCA) by the F-35 Joint Programme Office 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 aircraft. The UCA funds industry sustainment experts supporting operations worldwide, individual bases, depot maintenance, pilot and maintainer training in addition to 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.

The F-35 Joint Programme Office, together with each US Service, international operators and the F-35 industry team, leads F-35 sustainment and the Global Support Solution.

Existing F-35 Sustainment

Lockheed Martin and industry partners 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. This is in addition to:

  • synchronising spare buys
  • improving parts reliability and maintainability
  • implementing advanced analytics tools
  • accelerating modifications of earlier aircraft
  • 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.

J C Menon