Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin has received a $7.47 million contract to move an F-35 support center for three partner nations from Fort Worth, Texas, to Eglin Air Force Base in northwest Florida.
The contract, announced by the Department of Defense on Wednesday, is for the relocation of the F-35 Australia, Canada, United Kingdom Reprogramming Laboratory, or ACURL, which handles packing, shipping, installation, integration and testing of the aircraft for Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
The move is expected to be completed by March 2019.
The contract also provides for initial spare parts for the nations at Eglin Air Force Base and in Fort Worth.
The Partner Support Complex at Eglin Air Force Base is a U.S.-owned operation that handles testing for the F-35 Lightning II, a fifth-generation aircraft.
Testing for Australia, Canada and Britain is housed in one building, while work for Norway, Italy, Denmark, Netherlands and Turkey is done elsewhere on the base.
The staff at Eglin assigned to the work started with 24 civilian employees but is expected to grow to about 100 personnel. The unit reports to the 53rd Electronic Warfare Group Wing.
The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., handled the new contract.