The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) and Lockheed Martin Australia have agreed to consolidate the corporation's provision of maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) support for the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF's) F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft under one contract.
The DoD said on 1 August that a new five-year deal - worth AUD91 million (USD62 million) - will "streamline operational support for Australia's F-35A aircraft". It added that the agreement consolidates existing arrangements provided through the US F-35 Joint Program Office into "one Australian-managed contract with Lockheed Martin Australia".
The agreement relates to the F-35 logistics system - known as the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) - which provides fault diagnosis, maintenance management, supply support, mission planning, and training management.
Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the new agreement delivers a "more responsive and cost-effective solution for key aspects of Australian F-35A maintenance management and will create up to 60 jobs in the Canberra, Adelaide, Hunter, and Katherine regions".
Lockheed Martin said the agreement facilitates engagement on "integration, maintenance, and administration services" (IMAS) that will underpin all F-35 sustainment deals in the country. The corporation, which will implement the contract in collaboration with local industry partners, said the agreement is the first of its kind to be signed by the Australian government.
Australia has ordered 72 F-35As, the first two of which arrived at RAAF Base Williamtown, north of Sydney, in December 2018. The RAAF aims for the aircraft to achieve initial operating capability (IOC) by December 2020. Jane's reported in May that by the end of 2019 Australia will have received 18 F-35As, and up to 33 aircraft by the end of 2020, including F-35As currently in the United States.
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options at ihsmarkit.com/janes