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New contract to sustain F-35 fighter jets

F-35 Lightning stealth fighter jet
4 April 2023
The UK’s fleet of cutting-edge F-35 Lightning fighter jets will have continued support thanks to a new contract to keep them ready for global operations.

The joint Royal Navy and RAF stealth jets will be maintained and supported in a £161m contract.

Based at RAF Marham, home of the UK Lightning Force, the investment sustains around 140 UK jobs. The new contract comes as the previous agreement was due to end this year and was signed by the US Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin as F-35 prime contractor, with BAE Systems to carry out the work as a sub-contractor.

Providing support to the F-35 fleet until 2027, the arrangement offers the UK more freedom to operate the aircraft, increases the number of flying hours available and delivers important mission planning, training, and maintenance capabilities.

The F-35 Lightning is a multi-role, stealth aircraft containing cutting-edge technologies which is flown by both the Royal Navy and the RAF.

The jets deployed with HMS Queen Elizabeth earlier this year for a series of trials in UK waters while they also embarked for the UK Carrier Strike Group maiden deployment in 2021. During the seven-month deployment to the Asia Pacific, the fleet of both UK and US fighters flew more than 2,200 hours and 1,200 sortie, and carried out operations against terrorist group IS.

The signature of the contract is a significant milestone in the maturity of the UK’s F-35 National Support Solution.

Air Cdre Phil Brooker

In addition to its short take-off and vertical landing capability, the F-35’s unique combination of stealth, cutting-edge radar, sensor technology, and electronic warfare systems make it a true fifth-generation combat aircraft.

Negotiated by Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), the Lightning Air System National Capability Enterprise (LANCE) contract will provide technical support and training services for the UK’s F-35 fleet.

Air Cdre Phil Brooker, Hd Lightning II Delivery Team and Combat Air Principal Engineer at DE&S, said: “The signature of the contract is a significant milestone in the maturity of the UK’s F-35 National Support Solution.

“It demonstrates confidence in Lockheed Martin and BAE’s ability to enable the nation’s critical F-35 Freedom of Action capability and deliver the necessary support to the UK warfighter.” 

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