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MP lays out £918m benefits of defence to the region in new report commissioned by the government

The arrival of the F-35 B Lightning stealth aircraft at RAF Marham. Picture: Ian Burt

The arrival of the F-35 B Lightning stealth aircraft at RAF Marham. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

An MP has laid out the multi-million pound benefits of defence to the region, in a report highlighting its key role in British prosperity.

The first F-35 B Lightning stealth aircraft piloted by Wing Commnder John Butcher touches down at RAF Marham. Picture: Ian BurtThe first F-35 B Lightning stealth aircraft piloted by Wing Commnder John Butcher touches down at RAF Marham. Picture: Ian Burt

Philip Dunne, who was defence minister from 2012 to 2016, has released a review which reveals that defence invests £918m in the east of England’s industry and supports more than 5,700 jobs.

It was commissioned by defence secretary Gavin Williamson, and it is hoped the report into the sector’s national economic and social value will inform proposals for reform.

The region plays an important role in UK defence, providing more than 15,000 regulars and reserves to the forces, and acting as a hub for RAF and US air force airbases, including RAF Marham, home to the frontline squadrons of the Tornado force.

According to the report, the region benefits from Ministry of Defence (MOD) expenditure of £150 per person each year.

The report, part of the Modernising Defence Programme, includes 41 recommendations for review, including building on strong relationships with industry suppliers.

Mr Dunne, MP for Ludlow in Shropshire, said: “Defence has made a number of important steps in meeting its prosperity objective. It makes a major contribution to our economic well-being, with 500,000 people working directly and indirectly in defence and over 25,500 apprentices developing skills. “In several local communities defence is one of the leading providers of high-skilled jobs. “But there is more that can be done as defence has to adapt to rapidly evolving technological threats, so too should it seize the opportunities to adapt and improve its own processes to help meet the challenges of the high-tech defence future.”

He said he looked forward to the MOD’s response to the report.

Mr Williamson said: “[This] review shows how vital defence is, not only protecting us from global dangers and safeguarding our national prosperity, but also to our economy by creating thousands of specialist and highly-skilled jobs and creating billions in exports.

“He paints a clear picture of how defence and defence industry reaches every corner of the UK and is central to employment in so many cities and towns.”

In June, RAF Marham in Norfolk became home to the first new F-35 Lightnings, the world’s most advanced warplane.


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