The F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) has agreed to a contractual agreement with Lockheed Martin to support operations at RAF Marham, with BAE Systems assigned as the on-site lead for industry. In this role, BAE Systems will lead a 170+ strong industry team to execute the two-year agreement valued at ~$101m (~ £76m) to enhance maintenance, mission planning and training services for the UK’s F-35 Lightning fleet based in Norfolk.
The contract extends on the existing sustainment service at RAF Marham and will provide aircraft upgrades, maintenance, synthetic and maintainer training on-base, along with the ability to customise specialist pilot equipment at one of the first Pilot Fit Facilities outside of the United States.
The training and maintenance support at RAF Marham is crucial in ensuring the UK F-35 jets are ready and available, as they prepare for their first operational deployment aboard HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH this year as part of the UK Carrier Strike Group. Combining advanced destroyers, frigates, helicopters, submarines and fifth generation fighter jets, the Carrier Strike Group will be capable of conducting a range of important missions, from maritime security to disaster relief.
Edward Sheldon, Head of UK F-35 Sustainment & RAF Marham Site Lead, BAE Systems Air, said:
“As part of Lightning Team UK, our priority is to ensure our support solution at RAF Marham remains world-class to enable the deployment of UK jets whenever and wherever they’re needed. The collaboration between Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and industry is critical in achieving this and through the next phase of support at RAF Marham, we’re able to strengthen our UK sovereign capabilities by enhancing the services we provide. Through this continued investment and by working together, we can ensure the F-35 Lightning is available for the UK’s carrier strike operations and is ready to support allied operations anywhere in the world.”
Mark Perreault, Sustainment Sr. Program Manager, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said:
“The industry team worked closely with the Lightning Delivery Team and the JPO to provide a contract which will support the Lightning Force operations and the increasing inventory of jets. The services and expertise being provided via the Lightning Air System National Availability Enterprise (LANCE) effort will be integral to the daily operations and readiness of the Lightning squadrons of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.”
Air Commodore Phil Brooker, Lightning Delivery Team Head, DE&S, said:
“This contract will ensure the continued support of the UK F-35 Lightning fleet, as the number of UK aircraft continues to grow and we look forward to the first operational deployment of the aircraft onboard HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH this year. As well as providing world class maintenance and training capabilities, alongside deployable global support, this contract also introduces new capabilities such as a Pilot Fit Facility to equip our aircrew and a new ejection seat maintenance bay. These new capabilities offer value for money for the UK taxpayer and increase the UK’s sovereign ability to operate the F-35 Lightning at a time and place of its choosing.”
The UK F-35 jets are maintained by a unique collaboration between Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce as part of Lightning Team UK. Together, the team works jointly with the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to achieve a ‘whole force’ approach in support of the UK’s F-35 fleet.
In November, RAF Marham welcomed the latest three F-35 jets, taking the UK Lightning Force up to 21.
Around the world, there are now more than 610 F-35 aircraft operating from 26 bases and collectively, the programme has achieved more than 355,000 flying hours.