Lockheed Martin has secured an £80m contract to deliver the initial training, engineering, maintenance and logistics support for the UK's F-35 Lightning II fleet.

The three-year contract was awarded by the US Department of Defense F-35 Joint Program Office, and Lockheed has sub-contracted a portion of the work worth an estimated £40m to BAE Systems.

BAE Systems will take the lead sustainment role for F-35 Lightning II in the UK, while Lockheed Martin will continue to be the prime contractor for global operations.

BAE noted that the companies will form a collaborative team of more than 100 skilled technicians at Royal Air Force (RAF) Marham.

"Nothing demonstrates the strength of our relationship better than our joint work on the most advanced combat aircraft in the world, the F-35 Lightning II."

UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “Nothing demonstrates the strength of our relationship better than our joint work on the most advanced combat aircraft in the world, the F-35 Lightning II, and the UK is proud to be the future hub for all the European jets.

“The additional investment at RAF Marham will ensure that we have a formidable fighting force that, at a time of growing danger, in the most momentous of weeks, will help us work with our US partners to promote international peace and security.”

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Work has commenced to prepare RAF Marham for the arrival of 617 Squadron, which will fly the UK’s initial operational F-35 Lightning II jets from 2018 onwards.

A £142m package was awarded to Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems to deliver an operations centre, integrated training centre and maintenance and finish building in April 2016.

Image: A view of the future F-35 Lightning II maintenance and finish facility at RAF Marham. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.