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Lockheed awarded $31.3M contract modification for F-35 in Australia

By Allen Cone
An F-35A Joint Strike Fighter lands at its permanent Royal Australian Air Force in Williamtown on Dec. 10. Photo courtesy <a class="tpstyle" href="https://www.airforce.gov.au/news-and-events/news/air-force-joint-strike-fighters-arrive-australia">RAAF</a>
An F-35A Joint Strike Fighter lands at its permanent Royal Australian Air Force in Williamtown on Dec. 10. Photo courtesy RAAF

Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $31.3 million contract modification for sustainment services for the F-35 Lightning II purchased by the Royal Australian Air Force.

On Monday, the Department of Defense announced services for the initial production for Lot X Joint Strike Fighters.

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Work is expected to be completed by January 2021 in Williamtown, Australia.

Non-Pentagon participant funds will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

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The F-35A, which features conventional takeoff and landing, is one of three variants of the single-seat, single-engine fighters.

Australia is investing more than $17 billion to acquire at least 72 F-35A Joint Strike Fighters, according to a Royal Air Force news release. The government is deciding whether to purchase another 28 aircraft in the next decade, Defense News reported.

The F-35A is replacing 71 surviving McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A/B "Classic' Hornets," which entered service in 1985.

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"The Joint Strike Fighter is the largest acquisition in the history of the Royal Australian Air Force and is a key part of the government's $200 billion buildup in defense capability," Defense Minister Christopher Pyne said at the welcoming ceremony of the first two aircraft at RAAF Base Williamtown, north of Sydney, on Dec. 10.

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Ten new jets have been delivered to the Australian force, with the first eight temporarily flying with the U.S. Air Force's 61st Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, as part of the international F-35 training school.

"This is the most advanced, multi-role stealth fighter in the world. It will deliver next-generation capability benefits and provide a major boost to our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities," Pyne said. "The Joint Strike Fighter can get closer to threats undetected; find, engage and jam electronic signals from targets; and share information with other platforms."

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The Joint Strike Fighter also will be operated by eight other partner nations: the United States, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Denmark and Norway.

More than 50 Australian companies have directly shared in $1.2 billion in production contracts to date, the government said.

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