F-35’s U.K. Arrival Moves Closer with Award of New Support Contract
LONDON — Readiness for the arrival of the U.K.’s first F-35 Lightning II jets took another step forward with the award of a contract by the U.S. Department of Defense F-35 Joint Program Office worth more than 80 million pounds ($102.2 million) to Lockheed Martin to deliver the initial training, engineering, maintenance and logistics support for the United Kingdom’s F-35 fleet over a three-year period.
Lockheed Martin has subcontracted work worth 40 million pounds to BAE Systems and together the two companies will form a team of more than 100 skilled technicians at Royal Air Force (RAF) Marham, who will provide engineering and technical expertise, deliver air-crew and ground-crew training, facilitate routine maintenance and help to manage the jets’ global supply chain. BAE Systems will take the lead sustainment role for F-35 in the United Kingdom with Lockheed Martin continuing as prime contractor for global operations.
The award was announced by U.K. Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon during a press conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis. The visit was Mattis’ first to the United Kingdom in his role as U.S. defense secretary.
“Nothing demonstrates the strength of our relationship better than our joint work on the most advanced combat aircraft in the world — the F-35,” Fallon said. “And the U.K. is proud to be the future hub for all the European jets. The additional investment at RAF Marham will ensure that we have a formidable fighting force that, at a time of growing danger, in the most momentous of weeks, will help us work with our U.S. partners to promote international peace and security.”
Work already is under way to prepare RAF Marham for the arrival of 617 Squadron, who will fly the U.K.’s initial operational F-35 jets from 2018 onward. The contract announcement follows a 142-million-pound package that was awarded to Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems in April 2016 to deliver an Operations Center, Integrated Training Center and Maintenance and Finish building. Significant progress has been made in the past year and work is on target to be completed in early 2018.
“The F-35 will play a crucial role in defending the U.K, for decades to come,” said Peter Ruddock, chief executive of Lockheed Martin UK. “We at Lockheed Martin are honored and excited to bring our knowledge and expertise to bear and to our ongoing role in supporting the world’s most advanced fighter when the F-35 arrives at RAF Marham next year.”
“We are extremely proud of our continued relationship with the U.K. and the dedication of our people at RAF Marham,” said Andrea Thompson, F-35 Lightning II senior vice-president at BAE Systems. “We are working hard to prepare for the arrival of F-35 and this contract is the next step towards that reality. This contract builds upon our pedigree in delivering maintenance and support to the U.K.’s fast jet fleets at bases across the country, including at RAF Marham where we have been supporting the operation of the Tornado GR4 fleet for the last decade.”