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Plane spotters prepare to catch a glimpse of hi-tech F-35 stealth fighter arrive in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 05:00 31 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:28 31 May 2018

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

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

An increase in traffic is expected around a Norfolk airbase as people clamour to catch a glimpse of a hi-tech stealth fighter touching down in the UK for the first time.

The county is set to be at the forefront of Britain’s efforts to punch above its weight on the world stage when the multi-million pound F35-B aircraft touches down at its new home of RAF Marham in June.

The station has been busily preparing for the arrival of the warplanes with “unprecedented” stealth capabilities, investing £250m in new runways, hangars and a command centre bringing 1,200 construction jobs.

And their arrival is set to be hotly anticipated outside the base, with RAF Marham already preparing for high levels of interest from members of the public.

A statement released on RAF Marham’s Twitter page said it was “very much looking forward to welcoming its F-35 Lightning aircraft”, calling it a “significant milestone in the F-35 programme”.

The F-35 Lightning aircraft that the new squadron headquarters at RAF Marham will house. Picture: Crown copyright.The F-35 Lightning aircraft that the new squadron headquarters at RAF Marham will house. Picture: Crown copyright.

It also said it was a “momentous occasion” for the RAF and Royal Navy.

But the statement said: “We are aware that there will be a great deal of interest in the arrival of the aircraft and we are working very closely with Norfolk Constabulary to ensure that those who wish to witness this historic event can do so in a safe environment.”

It said that there are no current plans for road closures around the base but added: “Norfolk Constabulary will be in the vicinity of RAF Marham to ensure that any increase on the day is managed safely.”

RAF Marham is also “in discussion with local landowners who are looking into the possibility of providing safe areas for members of the public to view and photograph the aircraft’s arrival”.

An F-35 Lightning takes off from RAF Lakenheath. Picture: US Air Force/Senior Airman Malcolm MayfieldAn F-35 Lightning takes off from RAF Lakenheath. Picture: US Air Force/Senior Airman Malcolm Mayfield

Russia is also expected to be keeping a close eye on developments as the aircraft touches down in Norfolk, Lightning Force Commander Air Commodore David Bradshaw has said.

The UK is embarked on a £9.1bn programme to buy 48 F-35s by 2025 but has pledged to eventually purchase 138..

It is expected to bring a huge boost to RAF Marham, which only a few years was faced with potential closure.

Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, added: “RAF Marham is at the forefront of the UK’s defence capabilities.”


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