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Lockheed signs up BAE as jet partner

BAE SYSTEMS has signed an agreement with Lockheed Martin to sustain and support a series of combat fighter planes in Australia.

Both companies signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday in Australia’s Newcastle, which will see BAE help support the government’s F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter plan.

The Australian government has already approved the procurement of 14 out of 100 F-35 jets and BAE said that it is well placed to provide support to the programme through its Williamtown aerospace headquarters.

John Monaghan, director of aerospace in Australia, said: “Leveraging our capability at Williamtown will reduce the transition risk and cost of introducing the F-35 aircraft into service in Australia from 2018.

“It will also assist in retaining this important defence industry capability for the Hunter region and Australia more generally.”

Monaghan and Lockheed vice president of global industrial integration aeronautics Bob Bolz signed the agreement.

Lockheed won the contract to build the F-35 Lightning jets as long ago as 2001.

The initial order was worth $200bn (£134.8bn) for a consignment of 3,000 planes.