Lakenheath is set to become Europe’s first permanent base for F-35 fighter planes

PUBLISHED: 13:01 20 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:01 20 November 2018

Ceremony held at RAF Lakenheath to celebrate news of a £160 billion contract to bring the F-35 fighter aircraft to the airbase.  Picture: FOREST HEATH DISTRICT COUNCIL

Ceremony held at RAF Lakenheath to celebrate news of a £160 billion contract to bring the F-35 fighter aircraft to the airbase. Picture: FOREST HEATH DISTRICT COUNCIL

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A contract worth £160 million is set to bring the F-35 Squadron to RAF Lakenheath to become the first permanent international site for the fighter planes in Europe.

Councillor James Waters, leader of Forest Heath District Council, at RAF Lakenheath  Picture: FOREST HEATH DISTRICT COUNCILCouncillor James Waters, leader of Forest Heath District Council, at RAF Lakenheath Picture: FOREST HEATH DISTRICT COUNCIL

To prepare, the airbase will have major building work, including constructing a flight simulator facility, a maintenance unit, new hangars and storage facilities.

At the height of construction there will be around 700 contractors on site.

Councillor James Waters, leader of Forest Heath District Council, said: “I was pleased to be part of a ceremony to mark the start of the contract that will bring the F35 to Lakenheath.

“This is a £160 million contract in our area bringing jobs and more than £1 billion of investment and opportunities over the next five years.

“We work very closely with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and United States Air Force (USAFE) and the serving personnel are part of our communities.

“The council will continue not only to help with the F35 programme, but support local businesses being involved and welcome the new personnel to West Suffolk.”

The F-35 Programme should bring around £1 billion of investment and opportunities over the next five years supporting local businesses, jobs and skills.

The airbase will be the first permanent international site for US Air Force F-35s in Europe and continues the base’s long history of supporting US Air Force capability in the UK.

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has awarded the £160 million contract to Kier VolkerFitzpatrick to deliver infrastructure to ready RAF Lakenheath for two squadrons of US F-35s.

The flight simulator will have the capacity to link to other simulators used by UK pilots across the UK and beyond, allowing expertise to be shared and pilots from the UK and US to train together on a regular basis.

The investment is set to provide wider benefits to the local economy with more than 1,000 personnel and family members living at the base.

An event for industry at Newmarket was held to help businesses seize opportunities from the work at the base.

The ceremony, attended by representatives from DIO, US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa (USAFE- AFAFRICA), Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC), Kier VolkerFitzpatrick and Forest Heath District Council, was held at the base to celebrate the award of the contract.

Co-locating US and UK F-35 capability in the UK will help strengthen the historic military ties between the two nations as well, as the partnership between the RAF and US Air Forces.

The MOD is working with Forest Heath District Council and Kier VolkerFitzpatrick to ensure that job opportunities and training last beyond the end of construction.

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