Breaking News and Analysis: Joint Strike Fighter will “likely” be based at RAF Marham

Defence secretary Philip Hammond has said it is 'likely' that the British military's new Joint Strike Fighter aircraft will be based at RAF Marham in Norfolk.

He made the comments while at Fort Worth, in Texas, where he was taking delivery of the first jet, to be known as 'Lightening II', ordered by the UK government.

However, he added that no final decision had yet been made. Meanwhile a Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed that an official basing review on the issue still needed to be completed.

Mr Hammond continued: 'This hugely capable combat aircraft is now officially British and in the hands of our expert pilots.

'Highly skilled British aerospace workers are also playing a vital role in the delivery of Lightning II with UK companies involved in 15pc of the production and 25,000 British jobs sustained as a result.'

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The planes will operate from Royal Navy aircraft carriers, but will also have a land base which now appears likely to be Marham.

The Norfolk base was competing with RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland to become the new jets' home.

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But hopes were raised at Marham after defence minister Nick Harvey said in the House of Commons earlier this week that Lossiemouth would 'not be practical' as an option.

Royal Navy fleet commander admiral Sir George Zambellas said today: 'Jets at sea offer unmatched persistence and can guarantee the delivery of airpower around the globe.

'With the advent of Lightning II, UK defence has its opportunity to maximise the utility of our carriers and this extraordinarily capable aircraft through a range of sea and land basing options.

'The result will be a strategic capability which will deliver for many decades to come.'

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