Queen hears how the Joint Strike Fighter will ‘future proof’ the air force, when she visits RAF Marham in Norfolk

The Queen was welcomed to RAF Marham by five-year-old Marham Junior School pupil Owen Wright, while fellow pupil Caitlyn Tristram, aged 8, presented her with a posy. Picture: SAC Andy Wright. The Queen was welcomed to RAF Marham by five-year-old Marham Junior School pupil Owen Wright, while fellow pupil Caitlyn Tristram, aged 8, presented her with a posy. Picture: SAC Andy Wright.

Monday, February 3, 2014
5:28 PM

RAF Marham’s honorary Air Commodore heard how the base was preparing for the next generation of fast jets when she visited the station today.

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The Queen toured hangars where she met air and ground crew today, before sitting down to lunch in the Officers’ Mess.

After she departed, after spending more than two and a half hours at the station, commanding officer Group Capt Harv Smyth, said: “It was absolutely brilliant. The Queen is our honorary Air Commodore, so every two years she visits the station on a formal air commodore’s visit. “It’s her way of keeping up with what’s going on.”

Group Capt Smyth said the Queen met upwards of 100 people of all ranks during her visit, after being welcomed to the base by children from Marham Junior School.

“To have the Queen as our honorary Air Commodore is a very big deal for the station,” he said. “It does wonders for the morale of the troops, all the servicemen, the civil servants, the contractors that work here, to have the privilege of having the Queen come to visit is excellent.”

Group Capt Smyth said the base would be changing over the next four years as it prepared for the arrival of the Lightning II or Joint Strike Fighter.

The RAF’s next fast jet will replace Marham’s Tornados when it comes into service in 2018.

“At the moment we’re in an intensive planning period, to make sure we’ve got all our plans right and all our ducks in a row,” said Group Capt Smyth.

“Once we’re confident we’re on the right path we’ll start on the ‘doing’ part and you’ll start to see some pretty major redevelopment works on the camp.”

Group Capt Smyth said the Queen was very interested in what the new aircraft’s arrival would mean both for the RAF and the base.

“She was very, very interested not just for Marham but for broader UK defence,” he said. “What capability does it bring, why’s it different, does it future proof the Royal Air Force.”

“She’s incredibly well-educated on defence and she asks pointed questions. The questions she asks are absolutely the right questions to ask which lead you to believe that she knows what she’s talking about.”

After a lunch of beetroot starter, followed by roast lamb and apple tart, the Queen was driven past more than 100 children waving flags, as she departed via the main gate.

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