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Jobs secured by £125M Tornado deal

Tornado GR4 at RAF Marham. Credit: PA Images

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has trimmed £90 million off a contract to maintain, repair and upgrade the RAF's fleet of Tornado GR4 fast jets over the next five years, it has been announced.

A £125 million contract sealed with BAE Systems involved a cut in the price originally agreed when the company first took on the work in 2006, said the MoD.

The MoD said that more than 600 engineering jobs will be secured by the contract, which involves work at RAF Marham in Norfolk, RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, RAF Leeming in Yorkshire and at BAE System sites in Warton and Samlesbury in Lancashire.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "This investment will ensure our Tornado aircraft continue to be battle-ready for the next five years, as a key part of the RAF's fast jet fleet.

"They currently play a vital role in supporting troops on the ground in Afghanistan and they will continue to form the backbone of our ground attack capability until the Joint Strike Fighter arrives and the Typhoon's ground attack capability is fully mature in a few years' time.

"This contract will help sustain the specialist skills across the UK which make Britain a world leader in engineering."

The MoD's chief of materiel (air), Air Marshal Simon Bollom, said: "The Tornado GR4 is a once-in-a-generation aircraft and we broke new ground with the ATTAC support contract which was signed in 2006.

"This ATTAC B contract builds on a firm foundation and delivers yet further improvements at reduced cost which will keep Tornado operating at the highest level for the next five years."

The GR4 is currently deployed in Afghanistan providing air support to international forces, and has previously supported operations in Iraq, Kosovo and Libya. The contract will run until the aircraft are retired at the end of the decade and replaced by Typhoon and Lightning II jets.

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Emergency landing for GR4 aircraft from RAF Marham

RAF Tornado GR4 Credit: PA Images

A Tornado jet has had to make an emergency landing at a Scottish airport after a bird strike.

The GR4 aircraft from Norfolk's RAF Marham landed at Prestwick Airport, Ayrshire, following the incident shortly after 10.30pm yesterday.

The two-person jet, which was on a training mission, was still at the airport this afternoon, being checked over by engineers.

It is not yet known if it suffered any damage as a result of the incident.

An RAF spokesman said: "The two-seater aircraft was on a standard training mission in Scotland.

"It had a bird strike. The crew were aware of it and they made a precautionary landing into Prestwick.

"The aircraft is still there and it's awaiting engineering assistance before recovery."

It is not clear how long the jet will remain at the airport, the spokesman added.

He said the aircraft, carrying a pilot and a weapons systems operator, would have been in the vicinity of Prestwick when the crew made the decision to divert to the airport.

"It landed safely and both crew are fine," he added.

Prestwick Airport said its emergency procedures swung into action after it was made aware of the plan to land the jet.

A spokesman said: "An RAF Tornado experienced a bird strike and declared mayday at 10.36pm last night.

"Prestwick declared emergency so all the emergency services were there to await the aircraft, which arrived 10 minutes later.

"It landed safely at 10.46pm. The emergency was called off, and everyone stood down, at 11pm precisely."

New fighters set for Marham

RAF Marham set to be home for the new stealth fighter Credit: Press Association

The first squadron of the next generation of stealth fighter jets which will operate from RAF Marham in West Norfolk is expected to be ordered this autumn, Defence Minister Philip Dunne has said.

Mr Dunne said the Government hopes 48 of the F35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, also known as Lightning II, will have been ordered by 2020.

The Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy will operate the aircraft from Marham and the Navy's Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, which are being built.

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Queen's high honour for former Norfolk airman

Former RAF Marham commander and Chief of the Defence Staff Jock Stirrup has been made a Knight of the Garter Credit: Arrow Press/EMPICS Entertainment

One of RAF Marham's former Station Commanders has been made a Knight of the Garter, one of the highest honours for chivalry given by the Queen.

Air Chief Marshal Lord Jock Stirrup was in charge of the Norfolk base during the Gulf War in the 1990s.

He went on to be head of the UK Armed Forces.

New appointments are announced on Saint George's Day and are given to those who have served the country well.

Other Knights of the Garter in our region include the former Prime Minster and Huntingdon MP Sir John Major.

  1. Kate Prout

Crowds out for special homecoming parade

There's been a special homecoming in the west Norfolk town of Downham Market. Military personnel from nearby RAF Marham paraded through the streets before receiving medals for their latest tour of Afghanistan.

The crowds had more to cheer than usual with the announcement this week that the future of the airbase has been secured until 2040.

Click below to watch a report from ITV News Anglia's Kate Prout:

RAF Marham on parade in Downham Market

Members of 9 Squadron RAF Marham on parade in Downham Market, Norfolk Credit: ITV Anglia

RAF Marham's 9 Squadron have held a homecoming parade and medal ceremony in Downham Market, Norfolk. Personnel marched through the town before receiving their medals for their recent deployment to Afghanistan.

The parade comes just days after the Ministry of Defence announced Marham would be home for the RAF's new Joint Strike Fighters securing the future of the station.

Members of 9 Squadron RAF Marham gather for a medal ceremony in Downham Market, Norfolk Credit: ITV Anglia

Homecoming parade for RAF Marham personnel

Armed service personnel ar RAF Marham Credit: ITV News

This afternoon RAF Marham's 9 Squadron will be holding their homecoming parade and medal ceremony.

Personnel will march through Downham Market in Norfolk, before receiving their medals for their recent deployment to Afghanistan.

It comes just days after the MoD announced Marham would be home for the RAF's new Joint Strike Fighters

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