Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon have reached an agreement to support operations and sustainment of the global fleet of F-35 stealth fighters for fiscal years 2021-2023.
Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-35, also announced that the company reduced the fighter plane's cost per flying hour by 44% in the past five years, and expects to reduce the cost by an additional 40% in the next five years.
The annualized contracts between Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon are for supporting sustainment of the planes in each country operating them, with the future global fleet to consist of about 3,000 of the aircraft. The sustainment includes maintenance at bases, pilot and maintainer training, engineering costs, data analytics, and supply chain management for replenishment of parts.
According to F-35 program data, the plane is approximately twice as reliable as fourth-generation fighters, and is efficient in terms of maintenance labor hours needed as well as mission capability.
There are currently about 690 F-35s operating from 21 bases worldwide. Over 1,460 pilots and more than 11,000 maintainers have been trained, and the global fleet has accumulated over 430,000 flight hours.
Lockheed Martin also said that a second U.S. Marine Corps squadron of F-35B fighter planes in Japan was declared operational. The Marine Corps announced that squadron 242 attained initial operational capability, just four months after the transition from fourth-generation to fifth-generation fighter planes.