BAE Systems Australia has signed a contract to support the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) F-35A Lightning II operations.

Signed with the Australian Department of Defence (DoD), the five-year F-35A air vehicle support services (AVSS) contract is valued at over $57.5m (A$80m).

It includes the provision of essential supplementation for the maintenance and logistics crew.

The company will also provide supply-chain support for the Australian F‑35A fleet stationed at RAAF bases in Williamtown and Tindal.

Under the AVSS contract, BAE Systems Australia will provide some 46 staff.

This crew will be attached to 81 Wing providing direct, on-the-ground support with an air force technical and logistics workforce.

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Air Combat Systems Program Office commanding officer group captain Al Wherrett said that the contract represents a significant milestone between ADF and BAE Systems Australia for F‑35A support.

Wherrett said: “This contract will provide the necessary technical and logistics support directly where it’s needed, and thereby help Air Force assure the F-35A capability.”

BAE workforce will undertake aircraft wash and off-aircraft operational maintenance for wheels, batteries, canopy as well as ground support equipment.

The contract will also see the company provide personnel for several support functions in the F-35A squadrons as well as the F-35A retail warehouse at RAAF’s Williamtown Base.

Services for the procurement and management to support F-35A squadron operations will also be provided.

Australia had approved the procurement of 72 F-35A Lighting IIs to replace the ageing F/A-18A/B Hornets.

So far, a total of 45 jets have been delivered to Australia and the full fleet is scheduled to be delivered by the end of next year.