RAF's new fighter jet "likely" to be based in Norfolk

New Lightning II jet fighter at its launch in 2006. Credit: LM OTERO/AP/Press Association Images

There's been the strongest hint yet that a new generation of fighter jets will be based at RAF Marham in Norfolk. The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has announced that the Lightning II jets are "likely to be based at RAF Marham but that no decision has yet been made."

The first of the UK’s new stealth combat aircraft was handed over to the Ministry of Defence in Texas on Thursday. The aircraft are Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

The UK is the first country outside the US to receive these aircraft and Mr Hammond announced that the MoD intends to order a fourth Lightning II aircraft next year to add to the three already on contract.

The RAF and Royal Navy will conduct flight trials of the jets which will operate from land bases and from sea.

Lightning II will be operational from land based airfields from 2018, when it will also commence flight trials off the HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier.