Fears over Marham squadron cuts

Norfolk's last frontline RAF base could lose one of its four squadrons as part of a package of defence cuts announced to MPs today.There were persistent reports last night that the £4bn cost of two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers and the cost of the military's ongoing commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan will mean ships and aircraft having to be scrapped by the Ministry of Defence to stay within budget.

Norfolk's last frontline RAF base could lose one of its four squadrons as part of a package of defence cuts being announced to MPs today.

There were persistent reports last night that the £4bn cost of two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers and the cost of the military's ongoing commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan would mean ships and aircraft having to be scrapped by the Ministry of Defence to stay within budget.

Sources predicted that cuts to be proposed in the comprehensive spending review, unveiled by chancellor Alistair Darling to the Commons today, could include the disbandment of two squadrons of Tornado GR4 fighter bombers - one at Marham and one at Lossiemouth.

The MoD insisted no decisions had been taken, but a Whitehall spokesman said: "We continually review the defence programme."

Last night, North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham called on the government to give a straight answer over the proposed cuts.

"There is a real issue here. We do know the MoD budget is under a great deal of pressure," he said.

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"Any reduction would have an impact on jobs locally, not just with RAF personnel, but other businesses and organisations which are dependent on RAF Marham,

"It is bad news for west Norfolk as RAF Marham plays a vital part in the rural economy."

More than 3,000 service and civilian personnel are

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