The Department of Defense has awarded Lockheed Martin a $431.4-million contract modification to the Lot 9 F-35 advance acquisition contract, for the program to acquire "production nonrecurring items," including specialized tooling and test equipment, which are "critical to meeting current and future production rates" for US military services purchasing the fighter as well as foreign military sales customers, the Aug. 4 contract announcement states. The bulk of the contract work will be performed at the F-35 assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas, with additional work at Palmdale, Calif., other locations in the US, and sites in the UK, Denmark, and the Netherlands. The work on the contract is slated to conclude by December 2018. The contract announcement comes as the program recently passed a significant milestone with the declaration of initial operational capability for the F-35B. Lockheed Martin officials stated earlier this summer the company expects to move out of the system development and demonstration phase of the program by mid-2017, and "significantly" ramp up production.
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