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Lockheed Martin industry team has been awarded a $1.28bn undefinitised contract action (UCA) to support sustainment of the global F-35 aircraft fleet.

Awarded by the F-35 Joint Program Office, the team will provide support through 30 June 2021.

Under the UCA, the team will be responsible for initial ‘critical sustainment activities’ for a global fleet.

Meanwhile, negotiations are underway for a long-term contract to support the future 3,000 F-35 fleet.

Lockheed Martin F-35 programme acting vice-president and general manager Bill Brotherton said: “This contract ensures F-35s remain ready to fly and accomplish the warfighter’s mission.

“We continue to see improvements in readiness and cost, and as the fleet grows, so does the opportunity for the joint government and industry team to collaborate, realising even more long-term benefits.”

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By GlobalData

The ‘F-35 sustainment’ and the ‘Global Support Solution’ are led by the F-35 Joint Program Office, alongside US Armed Forces, international operators, as well as the F-35 industry team.

More than 600 Lockheed Martin-built F-35 aircraft are operational from 26 bases and ships worldwide.

The fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft is designed to operate as a stealth aircraft. It is being built in three variants and has both ‘air-to-ground attack’ and ‘air-to-air combat’ capabilities.

Mission capable rates for the aircraft continued to improve with rates averaging more than 70%. The aircraft has logged in over 345,000 cumulative flight hours.

Recently, the UK Ministry of Defence signed a seven-year £550m ($609m) demonstration and manufacture contract for new MBDA surface-attack missiles that will equip the F-35B fighter.