The US Department of Defense (DoD) has announced the European locations for heavy engine and air frame maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade (MRO&U) of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft.
Based on the data collected from European partners and their industries that was compiled and analysed by the F-35 Joint Program Office, Italy was selected to provide F-35 initial airframe MRO&U capability, while Turkey was chosen to provide engine heavy maintenance by 2018.
The UK will supply additional airframe MRO&U capability if required, while Norway and the Netherlands would establish the same capability as Turkey approximately two to three years after its initial capability.
F-35 Program executive officer lieutenant general Chris Bogdan said: "This is the first of many opportunities we will have to assign F-35 global sustainment solutions.
"As international F-35 deliveries increase and global operations expand, support provided by our international F-35 users becomes increasingly more important."
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Italy has already invested $1bn into a purpose-built final assembly and check-out facility for the fifth-generation aircraft.
A range of factors, including geography, operational necessity and the expected distribution of aircraft, contributed to the initial assignments, which are scheduled to be reviewed and updated in approximately five years.
An announcement on the Pacific region locations is expected to be made next week, while regional assignments for components, systems repair, warehousing, support equipment and other global supply chain functions would start in 2015, bringing hundreds of billions of dollars in potential work.
Bogdan said: "There is much work still to be had on the F-35 global sustainment posture, and we will go through a similar process over the next few years of assigning that capability to those areas and those partners that provide us the best value for doing that kind of work.
"Over time, the workload that gets sent to that partner nation is the way in which their industry can recoup that investment cost."
Image: An F-35C aircraft conducts a test flight over the Chesapeake Bay, US. Photo: courtesy of Andy Wolfe.