Future of RAF Marham unveiled as scheme to accommodate F-35 Lightning II jets is announced

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

A £167m investment will see RAF Marham transformed as it becomes home to UK's state of the art fighter jets - securing hundreds of jobs for the region.

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

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

The finishing touches and maintenance of the F-35B Lightning II planes will take place in purpose built hangars at the Norfolk base.

Three buildings are to be constructed to house the jets as well as facilities for training and logistics.

Three new buildings are to be constructed to house the jets as well as facilities for training and maintenance.

The work has been made possible through three contracts, placed initially by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), totalling £25m, for demolition and cabling works at the Norfolk site, readying it for new construction works.

A £142 million contract between Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and Lockheed Martin UK will then allow the construction of the buildings which will enable centralised management of the UK's whole F-35B fleet.

Around 300 people will be employed on the construction works, which will be managed by sub-contractors BAE Systems, who already have a presence at Marham having worked on the Tornado force.

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The buildings will become a place of work for around 250 military and civilian staff once they open in 2018.

The news came as a milestone was reached in the development of the UK's Lightning programme as it was announced the 10th aft, or rear, fuselage had been produced at BAE's Lancashire base.

Secretary of state for defence 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.'

The F-35s are due to arrive at Marham in 2018 and the force will be led by Air Commodore Harvey Smyth, a former station commander at Marham.

In the UK, BAE Systems is the manufacturer of the F-35 rear fuselage, vertical and horizontal tails and CV wing tips.

Cliff Robson, BAE Sytems senior vice president said: 'The construction work at RAF Marham signals the start of an exciting for the BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin team as the UK prepares for the arrival of the first F-35 Lightning II jets.

'The contract also underlines BAE Systems' continued involvement with the F-35 Lightning II programme and our company's credentials in providing infrastructure for the UK's military aircraft operations.

'We have a proven pedigree in delivering maintenance and support to the Royal Air Force fast jet fleets at bases throughout the UK including RAF Marham where we have been supporting the operation of the Tornado GR4 fleet for the last decade.'

The investment is part of £300m promised by David Cameron ahead of the election in May 2015.

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