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F-35 global support network takes shape
First F-35A for Japan. © Lockheed Martin

F-35 global support network takes shape

The U.S. Department of Defense has announced initial F-35 Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade (MRO&U) capabilities for regions outside the Continental United States. These initial Regional MRO&U assignments will support near-term component repair requirements in support of F-35 overseas operations and maintenance and will be reviewed and updated as programme needs dictate but no later than the next five years.

There are a total of 774 components (broken into 18 categories) that will be repaired on the F-35. This current assignment is for 65 of these 774 parts with assignment of the remaining parts to occur over the next 2 to 3 years. Eventually, the Program intends to have regional repair capability in Europe and the Pacific for all 774 components.

2021 to 2025

The first repair capabilities will be stood up by 2021 and will serve all F-35s globally until 2025. This is because the demand for repairs from 2021 to 2025 can be satisfied with a single repair source globally. Eventually, the demand for repairs will increase to a point where a single global repair capability will not be enough and as a result the program will stand up regional repair capabilities in Europe and the Pacific to handle the increased demand.

The Department of Defense has assigned 48 of the first 65 components to the UK, 14 to the Netherlands, and 3 to Australia for global repairs from 2021 to 2025. From 2021 to 2025 these repair capabilities in the UK, Australia, and the Netherlands will serve all F-35s around the world.

The UK solution will be based on a partnership enterprise between the UK Government-owned Defence Electronics & Components Agency (DECA), BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman, supported by key F-35 Original Equipment Manufacturers. The work will be centred at DECA, based at MOD Sealand, in North East Wales.

2025 and beyond

For the European region, the DoD has assigned 51 of the first 65 components to the UK and 14 to the Netherlands, with this repair capability to be activated in 2025.

For the Pacific Region, the Department has assigned 64 of the first 65 components to Australia and 1 component assigned to Korea with this repair capability to be activated by 2025.

In 2014 the DoD assigned F-35 MRO&U capability for airframes and engines for the European and Pacific Regions. These assignments support near-term engine and airframe F-35 overseas operations and maintenance and will be reviewed and updated in approximately five years.

In the European region, F-35 initial airframe MRO&U capability will be provided by Italy at their Final Assembly and Checkout facility in Cameri by 2018. Should additional airframe MRO&U capability be required, BAE Systems in the UK would be assigned to supplement the existing capability. In the European region, engine heavy maintenance will initially be provided by Turkey in 2018, with Norway and the Netherlands providing additional capability approximately 2-3 years after Turkey's initial capability.

In the Asia-Pacific Region, the DoD assigned F-35 airframe MRO&U capability to Japan and their industry partner, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, for the Northern Pacific and Australia and their industry partner, BAE Systems, for the Southern Pacific, with both capabilities required no later than early 2018. For Heavy F-35 Engine Maintenance, the initial capability will be provided by Australia and their industry partner, TAE, with Japan and their industry partner, IHI Corporation, providing additional capability approximately 3-5 years later.

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