The US Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded a £500m support contract to the UK’s European repair hub for F-35 avionics and aircraft components.

Under the contract, the MOD’s Defence & Electronics Components Agency (DECA) at MOD Sealand will deliver MRO&U services for a wider range of avionic, electronic and electrical systems for F-35 aircraft operating across the world.

DECA chief executive Geraint Spearing said: “It is particularly pleasing that we will provide such a critical and substantial element of the Global F-35 component sustainment solution. This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our workforce and will secure these world-class skills in support of defence and security for many years to come.”

The assignment, which is expected to create hundreds of additional F-35 jobs in the UK, follows on from a previous global assignment from the F-35 Program Office in November 2016 to provide maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade services for air vehicle depot-level repairable components.

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said of the contract: “This announcement keeps Britain right at the centre of the global F-35 partnership, the largest defence programme in history.

"This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our workforce and will secure these world-class skills in support of defence and security for many years to come."

“This deal builds on the strong foundations of the UK’s enduring defence partnership with the US. It is a significant boost for British jobs and those highly skilled workers who enable these world-class fighter jets to continue keeping us safe and secure.”

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The contract will be delivered by Sealand Support Services Ltd (SSSL), a joint venture between DECA, BAE Systems, and Northrop Grumman, with support work and services expected to begin from next year.

Northrop Grumman global sustainment and technology services supply chain sector vice-president Steve Hogan said: “As the US, partner nations, and global customers activate their fleets, Northrop Grumman and the industry team will continue to ensure F-35 Lightning II weapon systems are available for tasking and mission training.”

As a principal member of the aircraft’s industry team, Northrop Grumman contributes to the development and production of the Lockheed Martin-built aircraft.

Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, the UK, and the US are the original partner countries in the F-35 programme.

–Additional reporting by Talal Husseini.