First look at future of RAF Marham as details of £167m makeover unveiled

Computer Generated Image of the outside of one of the facilities which is being built at RAF Marham,

Computer Generated Image of the outside of one of the facilities which is being built at RAF Marham, Norfolk, as part of a programme of works to prepare the station for the arrival of the F-35 Lightning II fleet in 2018. - Credit: Archant

Details of RAF Marham's £167m makeover in preparation for the arrival of its new jets have been unveiled by the Ministry of Defence.

The Tornado Force Commander and Lightning Force Commander, Air Commodore Harvey Smyth handed over th

The Tornado Force Commander and Lightning Force Commander, Air Commodore Harvey Smyth handed over the resposibility of the Tornado Force to Group Captain Steve Ward at RAF Marham in March. - Credit: SAC Rose Buchanan

The government announced today that it has awarded contracts which will pave the way for new buildings where training and maintenance for the F-35B Lightning II be carried out.

They say the contracts will create 300 new jobs in west Norfolk.

A £25m demolition and cabling contract has already been awarded at the Norfolk site and the MOD announced it has awarded a further £142m contract to Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and Lockheed Martin UK which will allow the construction of three new buildings which will be used to keep the new aircraft ready for service, provide training facilities for pilots and ground crew, and where the UK's whole F-35B fleet will be managed.

The aircraft, which are set to arrive at the Norfolk base in 2018, are currently being built. The 10th rear section of an aircraft in the UK fleet has just been completed.

The F-35B Lightning II jet. Photo: MoD/PA Wire

The F-35B Lightning II jet. Photo: MoD/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Defence secretary Michael Fallon said: 'The F-35 is the most advanced combat aircraft in the world. Whether operating from land or our two new aircraft carriers, they will ensure we have a formidable fighting force.

'They are part of our plan for stronger and better defence, backed by a budget that will this week rise for the first time in six years, and keep rising until the end of the decade.'

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About 300 people are expected to be employed in the construction work, which will be managed by sub-contractors BAE Systems, and about 250 military and civilian staff will work in the buildings when they open in 2018.

DE&S chief executive Tony Douglas said: 'These facilities are critical to the F-35B Lightning II programme, which is in turn vital to the future capability of the UK's Armed Forces. The cutting edge technology of these aircraft, supported by world-class facilities at RAF Marham, will ensure we have a battle-winning fleet of jets deployable anywhere in the world.'

An F35 Lightning II aircraft on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

An F35 Lightning II aircraft on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The aft – or rear - sections of every single F-35 are being built by BAE Systems in Samlesbury, Lancashire.

About 500 companies across the UK are involved in the F-35 Lightning II programme.

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