The U.S. Defense Department’s F-35 Lightning II program has awarded prime contractor Lockheed Martin [LMT] a $1.4 billion contract to sustain the stealthy fighter jet for another year, the Pentagon announced late April 30.
The contract will provide maintenance and other support activities for aircraft delivered to the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy and non-U.S. forces.
Lockheed Martin said it is taking “aggressive actions” to improve the F-35’s availability and reduce sustainment costs. Those actions include expanding the supply chain, buying more parts in bulk and enhancing diagnostics and data analytics.
A Pentagon official revealed in October that DoD was launching a year-long “deep dive” to look for ways to cut the cost of the jet’s sustainment, as well as its production (Defense Daily, Oct. 23, 2017).
The Pentagon’s chief weapons tester said in January that the F-35 is making little progress in overcoming its readiness problems (Defense Daily, Jan. 25). In addition, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said in March that high sustainment costs for the F-35 “are a major concern right now” and “have got to go down” to be affordable (Defense Daily, March 29).