Norfolk's RAF Marham to be European engineering base

Joint Strike Fighter planes (file pic) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The new F-35 strike aircraft will be flying from RAF Marham by 2018

RAF Marham in Norfolk is to become the European maintenance hub for the new generation of strike and fighter aircraft deployed around Europe.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond also said new F-35 Lightning jets would be flying from the base in 2018.

After Mr Hammond's briefing Elizabeth Truss, Conservative MP for South West Norfolk, said the development would boost job opportunities.

It is also the culmination of a long campaign to keep the base open.

Four years ago RAF Marham's future was under threat as plans favoured a transfer of aircraft and facilities to RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

Ms Truss welcomed the new announcement and said more than 5,000 people were now employed at the base by the RAF and contractors.

"Many of these people are highly skilled in disciplines like engineering," she said.

"They now have an opportunity to provide maintenance facilities for other countries' aircraft and this will create even more jobs.

"Already we know the base is protected until 2040 when the strike fighter goes out of service.

"The base is hugely important to the local community as the biggest employer in south west Norfolk with a variety of jobs in many skilled disciplines."

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