1. ITV Report

Hundreds of jobs created as MOD invests £160m at Suffolk airbase

Photo: ITV Anglia

The MOD has announced it's investing £160m on a project to get RAF Lakenheath ready for the arrival of the US Air Force F-35 jets. As many as 700 contractors will be needed at the Suffolk base to help build a F-35 flight simulator, maintenance units, new hangars and storage facilities.

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

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 contract awarded to Kier VolkerFitzpatrick includes the construction of a flight simulator facility, a maintenance unit, new hangars and storage facilities.

The base will be the first permanent site for US Air Force F-35s in Europe Credit: PA

At the height of construction, it is expected that there will be up to 700 contractors on site. The investment will also provide wider benefits to the local economy with over 1,000 personnel and family members living at the base. The MOD is also working closely with Forest Heath District Council to ensure that the opportunities to create employment and training are maximised to ensure they last beyond the end of construction.

"For more than one hundred years now our armed forces have fought in defence of our common values and interests. Our two countries have developed the deepest, broadest and most advanced relationship of any two nations. Today marks another step towards reinforcing the strong partnership between our two nations and an exciting milestone for RAF Lakenheath. This investment will see substantial benefits to local economy, bringing 1,000 new personnel with their families and we will work hard to ensure that the benefits will last long after construction ends."

– Tobias Ellwood, Minister for Defence People and Veterans

"We are delighted to have been awarded this highly significant project with DIO. VolkerFitzpatrick has been working with the United States Air Force at RAF Lakenheath for over ten years and we look forward to bringing the knowledge we have gained to this new contract.

The project will allow us to build on our substantial experience within the civil airports and defence sector, to deliver the highest quality infrastructure for the new F-35 Fighter Jet."

– Chris Evans, VolkerFitzpatrick

The contract award is the first in a wider programme of work to support US Air Force operations in the UK, with more than US$1bn expected to be in invested in the UK over the next seven to ten years.