£300m investment in home of Fleet Air Arm’s new jets
From Royal Navy
More than £300m will be pumped into the home of the Navy’s next-generation strike fighter to meet the demands of the new jet.
Work will begin at RAF Marham in Norfolk to provide the infrastructure and facilities needed to operate the F-35 Lightning II.
When not flying from the decks of HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales, the jets – operated jointly by the Fleet Air Arm and Royal Air Force in 809 NAS and 617 Sqn respectively – will be based at the air station near King’s Lynn.
The Dambusters will be the first squadron to be formed – next year – and, once training in the United States is completed, the jets will move into their new home in Norfolk in 2018.
Work is ongoing to improve community facilities at Marham, which is currently home to RAF Tornados, and a small team of RN trailblazers – including meteorologists – is already at the base as part of the long-term preparations for operating the new strike fighters.
Considerable improvements and new infrastructure is required for the F-35s, which are one generation more advanced than the jets they replace.
Among the enhancements, three heat-resistant landing pads are being built to allow the F-35B to land vertically.
Announcing the £300m investment, Prime Minister David Cameron said the work would begin later this year and create 1,700 jobs.
The F-35B – the jump jet variant of the Anglo-American built aircraft – is currently undergoing extensive testing in the USA, where as well as pilots training to operate it, RN and RAF ground engineers and technicians are learning how to maintain its complex machinery and systems.