Readiness for the arrival of the UK's first F-35 Lightning II jets took another step forward with the awarding of a contract by the US Department of Defense F-35 Joint Program Office worth more than £80m (US$102.2m) to Lockheed Martin to deliver the initial training, engineering maintenance and logistics support for the UK's F-35 fleet over a three year period.

Lockheed Martin has sub-contracted work worth £40m to BAE Systems and together the two companies will form a team of more than 100 skilled technicians at RAF Marham, who will provide engineering and technical expertise, deliver air-crew and ground-crew training, facilitate routine maintenance and help to manage the jets' global supply chain. BAE Systems will take the lead sustainment role for F-35 in the UK with Lockheed Martin continuing as prime contractor for global operations.

Work is already underway to prepare RAF Marham for the arrival of 617 Squadron, who will fly the UK's initial operational F-35 jets from 2018 onwards.

This announcement follows a £142m package that was awarded to Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems in April 2016 to deliver an Operations Centre, Integrated Training Centre and Maintenance and Finish building. Significant progress has been made in the past year and work is on target to be completed in early 2018.