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Demolition ceremony marks a new era for RAF Lakenheath as it prepares for arrival of F-35A fighter jet

PUBLISHED: 13:08 17 November 2017 | UPDATED: 17:20 17 November 2017

Col Evan Pettus, 48th Fighter Wing commander, swings a sledgehammer during a demolition ceremony at RAF Lakenheath. The ceremony marked the first physical step in developing the infrastructure needed for thethe airrival of the F-35A Lightning II squadrons. Picture: US Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christopher Sparks

Col Evan Pettus, 48th Fighter Wing commander, swings a sledgehammer during a demolition ceremony at RAF Lakenheath. The ceremony marked the first physical step in developing the infrastructure needed for thethe airrival of the F-35A Lightning II squadrons. Picture: US Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christopher Sparks

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A demolition ceremony has marked the first physical step in a new era for RAF Lakenheath which will see the introduction of the F-35A Lightning II fighter jet.

Representatives from RAF Lakenheath during a demolition ceremony at the base. The construction site will eventually be home to approximately 1,200 airmen and 54 F-35A Lightning II aircraft squadrons. Picture: US Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christopher SparksRepresentatives from RAF Lakenheath during a demolition ceremony at the base. The construction site will eventually be home to approximately 1,200 airmen and 54 F-35A Lightning II aircraft squadrons. Picture: US Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christopher Sparks

Col Evan Pettus, commander of the US Air Force’s 48th Fighter Wing which is stationed at the Suffolk base, swung the first sledgehammer to symbolically break the ground of the construction site.

It will eventually be home to around 1,200 airmen and 54 of the state-of-the-art jets which will comprise of two fighter squadrons.

MORE - “Revolutionary” F-35A Lightning IIs on deployment at RAF Lakenheath to maximise training and strengthen US and UK alliance

An F-35A Lightning II from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, lands at RAF Lakenheath on a training deployment. Picture: Master Sgt Eric BurksAn F-35A Lightning II from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, lands at RAF Lakenheath on a training deployment. Picture: Master Sgt Eric Burks

“This marks a new beginning for the Liberty Wing,” said Col Pettus. “2021 may seem like the distant future, but there’s a lot of work to be done to make sure RAF Lakenheath is prepared for the F-35A’s arrival.”

MORE - Construction projects to house F-35 Lightning 11 at RAF Lakenheath discussed

Demolition is projected to begin between the autumn of 2018 and spring of 2019.

The first F-35As are scheduled to arrive in November 2021, with all aircraft and personnel believed to be in place by late 2023.

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