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Lockheed awarded $1.1B contract for F-35 support

By Allen Cone
Lockheed awarded $1.1B contract for F-35 support
F-35 Lightning II jets perform aerial maneuvers during a combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base in Utah on November 19, 2018. The 388th and 419th Fighter Wings are the first combat-ready F-35 unit in the Air Force. Photo by Airman 1st Class James Kennedy/U.S. Air Force

April 30 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $1.1 billion contract for sustainment services in support of the F-35 Lightning II aircraft for the United States and allies.

The work is for the Air Force, Navy, non-U. S. Department of Defense participants and foreign military sales customers, the Pentagon announced Monday.

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Services covered by the contract include ground maintenance activities, action request resolution, depot activation activities, Automatic Logistics Information System operation and maintenance as well as reliability, maintainability and health management implementation and support; supply chain management; and activities to provide and support pilot and maintainer initial training.

Sixty percent of the work will be performed at Lockheed's plant in in Fort Worth, Texas; 24 percent in Orlando, Fla., 7 percent in Greenville, S.C., 5 percent in Samlesbury, Preston, Britain, and 4 percent in El Segundo, Calif.

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Work is expected to be completed in December 2022.

The contract combines purchases for the Air Force at $477.9 million, the Navy at $346.8 million, non-U.S. DoD participants at $231.2 million and foreign customers at $92.9 million.

Fiscal 2019 operations and maintenance in the full amount will be obligated at time of award, $811.2 million of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

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Earlier this month, Lockheed announced a series of deals with subcontractors the company says will lower the cost of the F-35, as well as improve availability of parts.

Supply chain issues have caused lower-than-desired performance of the fighter plane, the General Accounting Office said in a report last week.

The 59-page report noted that the jet also is unable to fly as often as required because of spare parts shortages and logistical problems in moving parts around the world.

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GAO said from May to November 2018, F-35s were unable to fly 30 percent of the time because of shortages and mismatched parts, and that the Defense Department has an order backlog of about 4,300 parts.

The average F-35 unit cost for the Defense Department was $108.8 million in fiscal year 2019.

Joint foreign partners on the F-35 program are Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Turkey.

The F-35 is planned to replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps.

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