F-35 Stealth fighter programme for RAF Marham to bring jobs boom to region
- Credit: Ian Burt
Up to 500 jobs will be created as part of a £135m contract to provide facilities for RAF Marham's new state-of-the art fighter jets.
The contract, announced today by defence secretary Michael Fallon, is part of the UK's F-35 Lightning programme.
It will see the construction of a new hanger capable of housing 12 F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters, as well as the resurfacing of two existing runways and taxiways.
Vertical landing pads will also be added to accommodate the jet's ability to land vertically.
During the construction period, the base, which is located near Downham Market in West Norfolk, will remain operational.
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The major investment is the last of seven projects worth £250m undertaken to prepare the station for the aircraft's arrival next year.
London-based construction company Galliford Try, along with Lagan Construction Ltd, from Belfast, have been awarded the contract to deliver the facilities.
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Both companies will employ 400-500 people at the base and across East Anglia.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the F-35 programme was the world's largest single defence programme.
The 5th generation multi-role fighter jet, made by Lockheed Martin, is capable of short take-off and vertical-landing.
They will initially be flown by the RAF's 617 Squadron - followed by the 809 Naval Air Squadron - from Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers or bases such as RAF Marham.
The MoD said the jets will 'transform' the UK's ability to project its influence overseas.
Initial flight trials for F-35 jets from the UK's aircraft carriers will begin in 2018, building towards delivering a carrier strike capability for the UK from 2020.
Defence Secretary, Mr Fallon, said: 'Flying from our new Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, the F-35B aircraft will provide the UK with the ability to project our influence globally.
'This contract will ensure that RAF Marham has the facilities to match this world-class aircraft when it arrives next year.
'Throughout the F-35 programme, British firms have won major contracts creating thousands of jobs.'
'The contract to improve the runways and taxiways as well as installing new landing pads will bring a further 400-500 local jobs to Marham.'