Rheinmetall has secured a contract from the US Air Force (USAF) to supply ammunition for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF).
Valued at $6.5m, the contract requires the company to supply several ten thousand rounds in four lots.
Rheinmetall's new 25mm x 137 Frangible Armour Piercing (FAP) ammunition was developed in collaboration with Nato air forces to provide the F-35 with superior lethality against modern infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) and enemy aircraft in air-to-air engagements.
The 25mm x 137 FAP is said to be an all-purpose cartridge that is already in service with the F-35s of two Nato nations.
Rheinmetall Switzerland will manufacture the ammunition for the USAF. Delivery of the ammunition is expected to begin in December this year.
The Germany-based group joint venture Rheinmetall Day & Zimmermann Munitions (RDZM) is expected to assemble the ammunition of possible follow-up contracts in the US. The joint venture operates out of Rosslyn, Virginia.
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The USAF is currently procuring the F-35 fighter aircraft on a large scale, with 1,200 planes on order, Rheinmetall stated.
Besides the US, several other countries including Denmark, the UK, Italy, Canada, the Netherlands, Turkey and Japan have also opted for the new aircraft.
The Lockheed Martin-built F-35 can carry weapons in two parallel bays located in front of the landing gear. Each weapons bay is fitted with two hardpoints for carrying a range of bombs and missiles.
Image: Weapons bay on an F-35 mock-up. Photo: courtesy of Dammit.