June 18 2013 Latest news:
By Chris Bishop
Monday, March 4, 2013
An MP pledged she would keep pressing defence chiefs for answers over the future of RAF Marham, after it emerged the first of the next generation of fast jets could be based in Scotland.
It came after a Sunday newspaper reported that Lossiemouth-based 617 Squadron, nicknamed the Dambusters after its second world war exploits, would be the first in the RAF to operate the new Joint Strike Fighter when it comes into operation in three years’ time.
South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss has lobbied for Marham to become the permanent base for the JSF, because it is close to US bases at Mildenhall and Lakenheath.
Ms Truss said: “RAF Marham is the logical home for the JSF. The superb engineering and technical capabilities, not to forget the perfect strategic location, all make the base the logical home for the JSF.
“In January this year I met the US Secretary of State for Defense and discussed the future basing of the JSF. Last summer the Defence Secretary said that Marham was the likely choice. The Tornado aircraft will be part of the UK’s fast jet fleet until the JSF comes into full operation.
“Local businesses, residents, service personnel and families all want to know what the long term future of the base will be and I will be pressing, as a matter of priority, the Ministry of Defence on the future basing decision.”
With defence cuts looming in the autumn of 2010, it became clear at least one of the three Tornado bases – Marham, Lossiemouth and Leuchars – would be closed. The EDP launched a Make it Marham campaign with local MPs, councillors, businesses and community groups.
More than 37,000 signed a petition calling for the base to be saved, which was delivered to 10 Downing Street.
In July 2011, it was announced that Marham would remain the home of the Tornado aircraft. RAF Leuchars would close as an airbase, while the new Typhoon aircraft would be based at Lossiemouth. The Tornados currently based at RAF Marham are expected to form part of the UK’s fast jet fleet until the JSF comes into service in 2020.
Discussions are ongoing between the US and UK governments over the JSF programme as decisions are made in Washington DC over the future of the US defence budget.
The size of the UK’s JSF fleet and its in service date is expected to be finally confirmed in 2015.
Speaking in Texas in July 2012, the Secretary of State for Defense Phillip Hammond said the JSF “is likely” to be based at RAF Marham but final decision is still to be made.
Defence chiefs expect the JSF to take over the Tornado force’s twin roles of “deep-strike” missions – such as the raids on Col Gaddafi’s air defences in March 2011, which were flown from Norfolk, as the conflict in Libya escalated.
The aircraft will also perform a ground support role, acting as eyes in the sky for troops. Members of Marham-based IX(B) Sqn are currently performing this role in Afghanistan.
n Personnel marched 7,469km, the road distance back to Norfolk, in order to raise money for their chosen charity, The Royal British Legion.
The challenge was initiated half way through the deployment, which is expected to end shortly when IX(B) is replaced by 31 Sqn.
It was stipulated that each member has to contribute at least 10km of the total distance. It was completed using running and cross-training machines and took place around a busy flying programme.
On February 24, the final kilometre was undertaken by Squadron personnel marching, as a team, around the flight line of the Tornado GR4 aircraft.
A 19-year-old found dead on Hunstanton Beach was named today.
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