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'Exciting opportunities' available to ready RAF Lakenheath for F-35s

The F-35s will be housed at RAF Lakenheath from November 2021 Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

The F-35s will be housed at RAF Lakenheath from November 2021 Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

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A multi-million pound project to house the new F-35 fighter jets at RAF Lakenheath will provide "a number of exciting opportunities" for people across the region.

Two squadrons of F-35s will be housed at RAF Lakenheath Picture: USAF/AIRMAN ALEXANDER COOKTwo squadrons of F-35s will be housed at RAF Lakenheath Picture: USAF/AIRMAN ALEXANDER COOK

The Kier-VolkerFitzpatrick joint venture has been awarded a £160m contract to deliver new infrastructure to ready the Suffolk airbase for the first permanent home in Europe of the United States Air Force (USAF) F-35s.

The F-35 Beddown Programme involves construction and renovation of a number of buildings and infrastructure projects on the base, including a six-bay flight simulator, an aircraft maintenance unit, new hangars, and 42 aircraft parking aprons.

Throughout the duration of the project, the joint venture will be engaging with the local community to create new jobs and procure at least 40% of the supply chain within a 75-mile radius of the site.

MORE: Demolition begins at RAF Lakenheath to house F-35 jets

Businesses in and around west Suffolk are being invited to an event to see how they can benefit from the contract and meet with the Kier-VolkerFitzpatrick team to explore possibilities presented by the development.

Demolition of buildings has begun at RAF Lakenheath in preparation of main construction work in the summer  Picture: USAF/SHANICE WILLIAMS-JONESDemolition of buildings has begun at RAF Lakenheath in preparation of main construction work in the summer Picture: USAF/SHANICE WILLIAMS-JONES

The free event on Wednesday, April 17 at West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds, from 8am to 2pm, welcomes all local businesses and provides the opportunity to meet face-to-face with key team members from Kier-VolkerFitzpatrick, West Suffolk Council, West Suffolk College, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.

Local businesses will have the opportunity to provide products, that are either directly associated with the build such as raw materials, fixings, composite items, or are consumables for the running of the scheme such as paper, cleaning materials, printing, and fuel.

Opportunities to provide catering, printing, transport, and lodging services as well as skilled labour, attendant labour, plant operators, cleaners, apprentices, information managers are also up for grabs.

MORE: Flypast at RAF Honington as Tornado retires

Colonel Will Marshall, 48th Fighter Wing commander, said: “West Suffolk has been a home away from home for U.S. Airmen for over 50 years, and as we continue on our path to bringing F-35 Lightning IIs to RAF Lakenheath, we appreciate the efforts being made to source contracts within our local communities.”

At the height of construction, it is expected there will be up to 700 people on site supporting the programme, and the Kier-VolkerFitzpatrick team says a strong local supply chain will be crucial to successfully delivering the project.

Paul Crossland, KVF35 construction director at RAF Lakenheath, said: “This major infrastructure project has led to us creating a number of exciting new opportunities for people across the region.

“Throughout the duration of the development all partners involved are looking to create new jobs for the local community and procure at least 40% of the supply chain within a 75-mile radius.”

Main construction works are set to begin this summer, following extensive enabling works, ready for arrival of the aircraft from November 2021.

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