F-35As perform aerial maneuvers during a combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base in November. Photo by Airman 1st Class James Kennedy/U.S. Air Force
Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $542 million contract for F-35 equipment and spares for the U.S. military and partners in the program.
The contract, announced Tuesday by the Department of Defense, covers ancillary mission equipment and AME initial spares for Lot 13 F-35 Lightning II aircraft of the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, non-Pentagon departments and foreign military sales customers.
The F-35 has reached initial operating capacity with the Air Force and Marines, and the Navy is expected to declare it operational early this year.
In addition to U.S. use of the aircraft, Israel has also flown operations with theirs, and Britain declared it's F-35s operational last week. Japan and South Korea are also among the 10 nations who already have received, or at least purchased, the fifth generation aircraft.
Lockheed announced in December that it hit it's production goal for 2018 -- 91 F-35s, including 54 for the United States, 21 for international partner nations and 16 for foreign military sales customers -- with an expectation for more than 130 aircraft to roll off the production line this year.
Already this year, Lockheed has been awarded a $712.5 million contract for Technology Refresh 3 for the Navy and Marine Corps, in addition to a $69 million contract for additional upgrades to mission data programming on F-35s of the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.
Work on the contract awarded Tuesday will take place in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in May 2023.
Lockheed has been obligated $437 million in 2018 and 2019 aircraft procurement funds from all three branches, as well as non-U.S. Department of Defense participant and foreign military sales funds, none of which expires at the end of the current fiscal year.