Military Aviation

Pentagon awards Lockheed Martin $1.28B for sustainment of the global F-35 fleet

The F-35’s reliability continues to improve, and newer production aircraft are averaging greater than 70% mission capable rates.

The F-35 Joint Program Office awarded the Lockheed Martin industry team a $1.28 billion Undefinitized Contract Action (UCA) to support operations and sustainment of the global F-35 fleet through Jun. 30, 2021.

“This contract ensures F-35s remain ready to fly and accomplish the warfighter’s mission,” said Bill Brotherton, Lockheed Martin F-35 program acting vice president and general manager, in the company news release. “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, realizing even more long-term benefits.”

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.

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.

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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% mission capable rates, with some operational squadrons consistently near 75%. Cost per flight hour has decreased by more than 40% during the last five years.

To further improve readiness and cost stability, the enterprise is conducting supply chain competitions and building supply capacity, synchronizing 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.

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Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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