Rheinmetall announced on 6 March it has won a contract to supply the US Air Force with ammunition for the F-35 LIGHTNING II multirole combat aircraft. The contract is valued at US$6.5 million and encompasses supply of several tens of thousands of rounds, the first of which will be delivered in December this year.
The new 25x137mm Frangible Armour Piercing (FAP) round, already in service with the F-35s of two NATO nations and being ordered in small amounts by others for evaluation and testing, was specifically developed by Rheinmetall for, and in conjunction with, NATO air forces to provide the F-35 with superior lethality against modern IFVs at extreme slant ranges while still remaining deadly against enemy aircraft in air-to-air engagements.
Ammunition for the USAF order will take place at Rheinmetall Switzerland, but the company intends that possible follow-up contracts will be manufactured at Rheinmetall Day & Zimmermann Munitions (RDZM), a joint venture established by the two companies in 2016 and which operates out of Rosslyn, Virginia. Other potential customers will be supplied from locations belonging to Rheinmetall Waffe Munition Schweiz AG.