“This supports the broader F-35 JPO goals of increased affordability, transparency, predictability, and accountability for sustainment costs and performance,” it said in the notice posted on www.fedbizopps.gov.
Current estimates for the total cost of operating and maintaining the new warplane over the next 50 years are over $1 trillion, including inflation and projected fuel costs, although officials have said they expect to lower that cost dramatically.
Lockheed said it was the prime contractor for sustainment of the new jets at the moment, and aimed to keep that role. The company said its executives would attend the Pentagon’s industry day but it remained confident that it offered the best solution for sustaining all three variants of the F-35.
Lockheed is developing three models of the new fighter plane for the United States and eight countries - Britain, Canada, Australia, Italy, Turkey, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands.
Lockheed executive vice president Tom Burbage said an agreement signed by all nine countries over six years ago called for Lockheed to provide sustainment services -- or “performance-based logistics” -- for the new fighter plane.
“At the moment we are the prime contractor for sustainment and it’s our intent to stay in that role,” Burbage told Reuters. He said Lockheed was currently taking care of logistics for the plane at a Florida training base, and was working to set up operational bases in California, Nevada and Arizona.
The company was also working with international partners to identify ways for their local industries to get involved in long-term sustainment of the new fighter jet, Burbage said.
“At the moment, we’re heads down working sustainment very hard every day,” Burbage said, adding that Lockheed routinely staged competitions among its suppliers for the very sustainment functions included in the Pentagon’s notice.
The Pentagon said the Nov. 14-15 sessions would give Lockheed and other firms an overview of F-35 sustainment requirements, a forum to ask questions, and a chance to have a 30-minute one-on-one session with a government representative.