The new hi-tech warplane part-built by BAE Systems took a step closer to coming into service in the UK after a £80m deal was signed between the US and the Government.
The F35 Lightning II is due to arrive next year for use by the RAF and will initially be based at RAF Marham in Norfolk where work in underway for the jet’s new base.
Main contractor Lockheed Martin has been given the £80m contract to carry out the initial training, engineering, maintenance and logistics support for the UK’s F-35 Lightning II fleet over a three year period.
BAE workers at Samlesbury build the tail and rear fuselage sections of the aircraft and the plant is expanding ready for full production.
Lockheed Martin has sub-contracted work worth £40m to BAE Systems and together the two companies will form a team of more than 100 skilled technicians at RAF Marham, which will provide engineering and technical expertise, deliver air-crew and ground-crew training, facilitate routine maintenance and help to manage the jets’ global supply chain.
The award was announced by Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon MP in a press conference with US Secretary of State for Defence General Jim Mattis. The visit was his first to the UK in his role.
Sir Michael said: “Nothing demonstrates the strength of our relationship better than our joint work on the most advanced combat aircraft in the world – the F-35 Lightning II.
“And the UK is proud to be the future hub for all the European jets. The additional investment at RAF Marham will ensure that we have a formidable fighting force.”