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Project Anvil brings 1,200 jobs to Norfolk, as RAF Marham upgrade takes off

This image shows the Maintenance and Finishing Facility construction at RAF Marham. Picture: CPL ASHLEY KEATES

This image shows the Maintenance and Finishing Facility construction at RAF Marham. Picture: CPL ASHLEY KEATES

UK MOD CROWN COPYRIGHT 2017

More than 1,000 jobs are landing at RAF Marham as the base undergoes its biggest upgrade since the Second World War.

This image shows the Maintenance and Finishing Facility construction at RAF Marham. Picture: SAC Edward Wright [RAF]This image shows the Maintenance and Finishing Facility construction at RAF Marham. Picture: SAC Edward Wright [RAF]

A £250m investment is being made in buildings, runways and other infrastructure on the Norfolk air base as it prepares for the arrival of the most advanced warplane ever built for UK armed forces.

Work is under way on the headquarters for the F35 Lightning force, a giant hangar where the aircraft will be maintained and a training centre where air and ground crews will learn about the aircraft. The transformation of one of ther RAF’s key stations has been code-named Project Anvil.

This image shows the Integrated Training Centre construction at RAF Marham. Picture: CPL ASHLEY KEATESThis image shows the Integrated Training Centre construction at RAF Marham. Picture: CPL ASHLEY KEATES

Group Capt Ann Gibson, head of the Lightning basing team, said: “At the peak of it, we think there’s going to be 1,200 people working on Anvil at any one time.

“The MoD does encourage all its contractors to use local employees. I do know there are a lot of local subcontractors involved.”

Infrastructure works at RAF Marham in preparation for the Lightning aircraft that will arrive next year. Pictured is the new Training Centre. Picture: Ian BurtInfrastructure works at RAF Marham in preparation for the Lightning aircraft that will arrive next year. Pictured is the new Training Centre. Picture: Ian Burt

Balfour Beatty, one of the principal building contractors, has secured work worth £80m on Anvil’s three massive buildings.

Dean Burgess, its regional managing director, said it would have up to 500 employees on site, 50pc of them hired locally.

Infrastructure works at RAF Marham in preparation for the Lightning aircraft that will arrive next year. Picture: Ian BurtInfrastructure works at RAF Marham in preparation for the Lightning aircraft that will arrive next year. Picture: Ian Burt

“We set ourselves a target of 30pc and we’re maxing on that,” he said. “We’ve extended our partnership with the College of West Anglia, we’ve got apprenticeship schemes and graduate schemes.”

The massive hangar which will house the Lightning has been built on the site of a hangar which housed Wellington and Stirling bombers during the Second World War. Group Capt Gibson said the refurbishment was the largest Marham had seen since then.

Infrastructure works at RAF Marham in preparation for the Lightning aircraft that will arrive next year. Pictured is the new Maintenance and Finishing facility at the base. Picture: Ian BurtInfrastructure works at RAF Marham in preparation for the Lightning aircraft that will arrive next year. Pictured is the new Maintenance and Finishing facility at the base. Picture: Ian Burt

Station commander Group Capt Rich Davies, who leaves the base in two weeks’ time, has spent 24 of his 27 years in the RAF flying the Tornados which have been based at Marham since the early 1980s.

“I’m probably the last true Tornado station commander,” he said. “I will hand over to a new station commander whose job will be to take that aircraft out of service whilst bringing a new aircraft into service.”

The F-35 Lightning making its first flypast over its future home at RAF Marham. Picture: Ian BurtThe F-35 Lightning making its first flypast over its future home at RAF Marham. Picture: Ian Burt

Air Commodore David Bradshaw, commander of the F35 Lightning force, said: “The F35 Lightning is the most cutting edge piece of technology that exists in the world.

“Having it here at RAF Marham secures the future of RAF Marham, which the local community is very happy about.”

Infrastructure works at RAF Marham in preparation for the Lightning aircraft that will arrive next year. Speaking to the media is Air Commodore David Bradshaw. Picture: Ian BurtInfrastructure works at RAF Marham in preparation for the Lightning aircraft that will arrive next year. Speaking to the media is Air Commodore David Bradshaw. Picture: Ian Burt

The first buildings are expected to be completed by next summer, when the first Lightnings arrive in Norfolk flown by 617 Sqn, aka the Dambusters.

A naval air squadron will also be based at Marham - bringing the biggest deployment of the Senior Service Nelson’s County has seen.

Infrastructure works at RAF Marham in preparation for the Lightning aircraft that will arrive next year. Speaking to the media is Air Commodore David Bradshaw. Picture: Ian BurtInfrastructure works at RAF Marham in preparation for the Lightning aircraft that will arrive next year. Speaking to the media is Air Commodore David Bradshaw. Picture: Ian Burt

Infrastructure works at RAF Marham in preparation for the Lightning aircraft that will arrive next year. Pictured are (L) Air Commodore David Bradshaw and Group Captain Rich Davies. Picture: Ian BurtInfrastructure works at RAF Marham in preparation for the Lightning aircraft that will arrive next year. Pictured are (L) Air Commodore David Bradshaw and Group Captain Rich Davies. Picture: Ian Burt

Tornado GR4 fighter pilots preparing for flight, taking off from RAF Marham. Picture: Ian BurtTornado GR4 fighter pilots preparing for flight, taking off from RAF Marham. Picture: Ian Burt

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