Work begins in earnest as RAF Marham prepares for the Lightning II jet

Work starts on the development of RAF Marham ready for the arrival of the Lightning II aircraft - Fr

Work starts on the development of RAF Marham ready for the arrival of the Lightning II aircraft - From left, Station Commander Rich Davies and Air Commodore Harvey Smith. Picture: Matthew Usher.

While their flight crews continue to take the fight to ISIS/Daesh in the Middle East back at home, it is all change as £300m of infrastructure improvements have begun to gather pace.

RAF Marham is going through a seismic change in its history as the 100-year-old station prepares to be the home of the latest fighter jet technology.

After a campaign the Norfolk base's future was secured when it was announced the F35 Lightning II jets would be housed there a few years ago.

Now the preparations have started in earnest as air personnel, contractors and engineers have started to write the next chapter in Marham's history.

Air Commodore Harvey Smyth, who is the Lightning Force Commander, said: 'It is hugely exciting. There have been lots of plans over the last couple of years and what's really good here today is that we have started to move from planning into execution and we are starting to see some tangible benefits.'

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He added: 'The F35 is a fifth generation aircraft, from the UK point of view this is the first time we have had such advanced capability, a stealth aeroplane that comes with high-end sensors and the ability to allow us to do things we just haven't been able to do.'

The stealth ability of the F35, which allows it to avoid detection on radar, will mean pilots will be able to fly in dangerous areas they have previously been unable to.

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This is one of the reasons why a brand new training centre and a maintenance hangar are being built on the base to ensure both plane and pilot are fit for the job.

Much of RAF Marham is still as it was when it was built up in 1935 ahead of the Second World War.

The base was originally opened as a Royal Flying Corps station in 1916 but closed after the end of the First World War.

As well as the building work 90pc of the runways will be replaced in preparation for the Lightning aircraft.

While work takes place construction traffic is being directed through two access points to the south and east of the station with the aim of reducing the amount of traffic on the road.

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