Lockheed Martin awarded $6.6bn F-35 sustainment contract

25 F-35A jets prepare to launch at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska
© US Air Force photo
25 F-35A jets prepare to launch at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $6.6 billion sustainment contract by the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office.

The new contract covers fiscal years 2021-23 to support operations and sustainment of the global F-35 fleet, supporting mission readiness and further reducing costs.

The annual contracts fund critical sustainment activities for aircraft currently in the fleet and build enterprise capacity to support the future fleet of more than 3,000 F-35 fighter jets.

This includes industry sustainment experts supporting base and depot maintenance, pilot and maintainer training, and sustaining engineering for the US and ally countries. It also covers fleet-wide data analytics and supply chain management for part repair and replenishment 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," said Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager of the F-35 programme. "These contracts represent more than a 30% reduction in cost per flying hour from the 2020 annualized contract, and exemplify the trusted partnership and commitment we share to reduce sustainment costs and increase availability for this unrivalled fifth generation weapon system."

The 2021-2023 contracts represent a planned next step in reducing overall operations and support costs for the F-35 programem, which are shared between government and industry.

Lockheed Martin has reduced cost per flight hour by 44% in the past five years, with a forecasted reduction of an additional 40% in the next five years. The company says the cost savings in the 2021-23 annualised sustainment contracts support its efforts to realise these goals.

The savings will be achieved through improved cost and velocity in its supply chain, continued reliability improvements, and greater manpower efficiencies to provide product support solutions across the growing, global fleet.

The contracts also pave the way for a longer-term, performance based logistics (PBL) agreement for the F-35 programme. PBLs are an industry best practice, facilitating agile sustainment solutions for the fleet and incentivising even further affordability and performance results.

Programme data shows the F-35's reliability continues to improve as the jet is approximately twice as reliable as fourth generation fighters. It also shows maintenance labour hours needed per flight hour are well within the contractual requirement, while the global fleet is averaging around 70% mission capable rates.

Lockheed Martin has significantly lowered its share of cost per flight hour over the last five years, and the broader F-35 team is working across government and industry to achieve greater affordability.

More than 690 F-35s have been delivered and are operating from 21 bases around the world. More than 1,460 pilots and 11,025 maintainers have been trained and the F-35 fleet has surpassed 430,000 cumulative flight hours.



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