A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron taxis down the flightline before taking off from Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, April 24, 2019. Lockheed Martin on Wednesday signed a contract to provide modifications and tooling on the aircraft. Photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Drzazgowski/U.S. Air Force
May 16 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin has been awarded an $11.9 million contract for work on F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft of the U.S. military and allied nations who participate in the program.
The contract, announced Wednesday by the Department of Defense, covers modification kits and special tooling for modification and retrofits of the F-35s of the Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy, and allies in the foreign military sales program.
The full value of the contract was obligated to Lockheed at the time of award, the Pentagon said, with work expected to be completed by December 2023.
Lockheed in recent weeks has been awarded several contracts for sustainment and modifications on the fifth generation aircraft. Those deals include a $1.1 billion deal for sustainment services that was awarded on April 29 and a $117.1 million contract awarded on April 23 for a variety of spares, including air vehicle initial spares, deployment and afloat spares packages, and other associated consumables.
The company also signed at least 15 long-term contracts with subcontractors in early April in an effort to lower costs and improve parts availability.
"As the F-35 fleet expands, we are partnering with our customers and taking aggressive actions to enhance F-35 readiness and reduce sustainment costs," Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager of the F-35 program, said at the time.
While Lockheed has looked toward contracts to shore up parts, the Pentagon is also working on plans to seek new suppliers should Turkey be removed from the F-35 program. The NATO member has been a partner on the aircraft since its inception and several parts for the aircraft are made there.
With Turkey considering a purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system -- U.S. officials say that interfacing the defense system with systems on the F-35 could jeopardize informational security -- the U.S. has started to look elsewhere for Turkey's contributions.