LONDON — The U.K. government has awarded an industrial team of Marshall Aerospace, Rolls-Royce, and Lockheed Martin a £350 million ($548 million) contract to support C-130Ks and C-130J airlifters until 2015.

The defense ministry says the so-called Hercules Integrated Operational Support contract saves £170 million by replacing in a single-package several smaller contracts. The contract also provides better support for operations in Afghanistan during the critical time when forces start redeploying to the U.K., the ministry says.

“This new agreement will not only save the taxpayer money but will also ensure the fleet has continued support to maintain aircraft availability, especially for Afghanistan,” says Peter Luff, defense minister for equipment, support and technology.

Rolls-Royce, which says its portion of the contract has a value of almost £100 million, notes it also has secured a contract extension to support Conway engines on the VC10 tanker fleet until its retirement in 2013.

The Hercules Integrated Operational Support contract was first signed in 2006 with a planned 24-year life and £1.52 billion value to support C-130Js and C-130Ks.