Make it Marham Mark II: decision over Norfolk RAF base future to be made in the spring
Norfolk MP keeps pressure up to ensure RAF base is new home for Joint Strike Fighter
The future of RAF Marham will be announced in the spring when a decision on the home for the new Joint Strike Force (JSF) jets is revealed.
Defence Minister Peter Luff told SW Norfolk MP Liz Truss today that criteria for the decision will take into account current infrastructure, operational cost and the impact on the local area.
It is widely expected that the JSF fleet will be housed at a single UK base and there is a growing campaign to ensure it will be Marham.
'It was a very positive meeting and I am pleased we now know when the decision will be made on basing. The minister made it very clear that careful consideration will be given to the impact on local communities and service personnel; I emphasised to him the tremendous support RAF Marham has locally. Marham also has the strategic and engineering capabilities to support the Joint Strike Fighter and proximity to training grounds and US bases places it in a good position. I will continue to maintain the pressure on ministers and now is definitely the time to fire up the campaign to Make it Marham (Mark II),' said Ms Truss.
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The Tornados currently based at Marham are expected to form part of the UK's fast jet fleet until the JSF comes into service in 2020.
Developed in conjunction with the United States government, the JSF will join the Typhoon in forming the UK's future fast jet fleet.
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Discussions are ongoing between the US and UK Governments over the JSF programme as decisions are made in Washington DC over the future of the US defence budget.
The size of the UK's JSF fleet and its in service date is expected to be confirmed as part of the Ministry of Defence's Main Gate decision in 2015.
Ms Truss is continuing to make the case for the long term future of RAF Marham as the home of the JSF. She highlighted to the Minister the strong support for RAF Marham locally, the economic contribution to Norfolk and the strategic and cost advantages of basing the fleet at RAF Marham.
It was at the EDP's head office in Norwich in November last year when MPs, councils, businesses and communities across Norfolk united to launch a bid to save RAF Marham.
In just 18 days almost 37,000 people from across the county – and further afield – showed their support for the RAF base by signing our petition.
The fight to save the Tornado base started when campaigners, led by South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, took to the streets in Swaffham on November 13.
On November 20, the EDP published a petition form on the front page of a weekend edition – something not believed to have been done in the paper's 140-year history.
Then on November 31, a large delegation descended on a snow- covered 10 Downing Street to deliver the petition.
The delegation, which included seven Norfolk MPs and council leaders, also put forward the case to save RAF Marham to the then defence secretary Liam Fox.
Dr Fox announced in July that Marham would become the main home of the RAF's Tornado force as long sa the jet remained in service – which saw the people of Norfolk collectively breathe a sigh of relief.
RAF Marham is one of Norfolk's 10 largest employers and has in the region of 5,000 people.
In a region where the world of work is dominated by tourism and agriculture, it is a rare source of well-qualified, highly-paid jobs, which bring �130m to our economy.
Thousands of families who live on the base or further afield are also vital to the sustainability of our villages and market towns.