July 29 2014 Latest news:
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Friday, June 13, 2014
RAF Marham is in line for a £7.5 million makeover to allow the next generation of aircraft to land at the Norfolk base.
South-West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss has called for local firms to be used where possible for the multi-million project to build three new “landing pads” alongside the existing runway.
The new Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, which are currently being developed in the United States, are able to land normally on the current runway, but the RAF base, near Swaffham, will need three landing areas which can withstand high heats, so that the aircraft can also land vertically.
The Ministry of Defence has not yet awarded a contract for the multi-million pound project, and was unable to say if its plans would involve local businesses or create local jobs.
Ms Truss said: “This is excellent news and further illustrates the government’s commitment to RAF Marham. I understand that the design is still being formulated, but with an investment like this, I hope that local expertise can be utilised. It will be great if businesses from Norfolk can benefit from this multi-million pound spend and this is an issue I will be raising with the defence secretary.”
The project will take place before 2018, when the new aircraft is on track to be delivered.
The government is expected to make an initial order of 14 F-35B jets – known as the Lightning II – in the coming months. As well as having a base at RAF Marham, the F-35s will fly from the two new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. Three test aircraft have already been delivered and defence secretary Philip Hammond is in negotiations to buy its first batch of fighters.
Mr Hammond has revealed he is in talks with other European nations to make Norfolk an engineering hub for the next generation of fighter jets. An MOD spokesman said he expected the pads to be about 10msq, and they would have to be made out of heat resistant material.
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