RAF Marham appears closer than ever to being named home of the military’s new Joint Strike Fighter jets after a government minister all but ruled out the only other option as a base for the planes.

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The government is yet to decide which of two potential sites, RAF Marham or RAF Lossiemouth, in Scotland, will be designated as the high-tech planes’ UK land base.

The EDP has been campaigning for Marham, which employs 5,000 people in Norfolk, to win the role as it would secure the base’s future and boost Norfolk’s economy.

Hopes were raised yesterday when, in the House of Commons, defence minister Nick Harvey said it would “not be practical” to locate the planes at Lossiemouth because the government had already decided to station the RAF’s Euro-fighter Typhoon aircraft there.

The minister told MPs: “A decision will be made as to where it will be based in good time for the introduction of the strike fighter into service.

“Detailed work is taking place at the moment looking at the basing requirements and we will make a decision as soon as is practically possible.”

He added: “It was announced that Typhoon is moving to Lossiemouth and, with the best will in the world, it would not be practical to have both fleets situated in one base.”

The comments come just weeks after defence secretary Philip Hammond said RAF Marham was the “logical choice” for Joint Strike Fighter, or F35, aircraft because of its engineering capabilities and proximity to Lakenheath, the US military base where American F35 planes will likely be located.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, another defence minister, Peter Luff, told the EDP that RAF Marham was “very well placed” to win the role of being the base of British F35 aircraft.

Mr Harvey also confirmed yesterday that the government would “take delivery” of the first of the UK’s F35 aircraft later this week – however, Ministry of Defence sources confirmed this meant only that RAF pilots would be testing the jets in the US, not that planes would already be coming to the UK.

A decision on where the planes are based when they do eventually reach Britain is expected later this year.

South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss, in whose constituency RAF Marham is situated, was among those who asked Mr Harvey about the basing decision in the Commons yesterday.

She said: “The minister indicated that since the Typhoon is to be based at Lossiemouth, it would not be practical to have the JSF also there.

“This is extremely positive for RAF Marham as Marham was the other shortlisted base. The minister’s announcement will provide significant reassurance for local businesses and service personnel in Norfolk.”

2 comments

  • Not wishing to pit one against the other but Marham is not the logical choice and the JSF can exist on the same base as the Typhoon. Daft comments from Nick Harvey such as that shows his complete lack of understanding. In addition to this the Tornado fleet will be moving to Marham so despite your local arguments implying that Lossiemouth has already gained good fortune with Typhoon, the truth is quite the opposite. Whoever wins out, someone else looses and to that end it's worth while pointing out how out of touch this government are and how they can have a £38bn black-hole in the MOD at the same time as keeping Trident and forcing the same budget onto the MOD amazes me!

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    Nathan Matthews

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

  • Agreed Nathan, Lossie used to have three different aircraft systems. Bucaneer,Jag and Hunter, while bieng able to host the kinloss Nimrods while the runway was extended. Given that the tronado will go to Marham Lossie can more than accom both systems. Any other decision is politicaly motivated. the ranges are on Lossies door. Lossie camp has been extended in recent years taking in Nth Greens farm and another which name escapes me. The amount of aircraft and personnel at lossie is way down from the 80s etc giving plenty of room and infrastructure . And before we start on deep servicing etc, much of it has returned to lossie (renamed something else) as Marham cant cope

    Report this comment

    davie

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

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