Ministry of Defence announce major £160m boost for RAF base
- Credit: DIO
Multi-million pound plans to transform a Suffolk RAF base into the first permanent international site for US fighter jets have been announced.
RAF Lakenheath will receive £160million worth of improvements over the next few years thanks to cash from the Ministry of Defence.
The major project, which aims to help create 700 jobs, will see a new flight simulator, hangars and maintenance units installed.
Pilots from the UK and beyond will be able to access a shared database hosted by the flight simulator, allowing US and UK experts to train together regularly.
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,” said defence minister Tobias Ellwood.
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“It marks another step towards reinforcing the strong partnership between our two nations and an exciting milestone for RAF Lakenheath.”
It is hoped the cash injection will boost the local economy – with more than 1,000 personnel and family members living at the base.
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At the height of the project’s construction, bosses aim to have up to 700 contractors on site.
Preparation work can start immediately, and construction should start in summer 2019 – with the base welcoming the first new jets in 2021.
Forest Heath district council leader James Waters said: “This is a £160m contract in our area bringing jobs, more than £1bn of investment and opportunities over the next five years.
“The council will continue not only to help with the F-35 programme, but support local businesses and welcome the new personnel to west Suffolk.”
USAF 48th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Will Marshall said: “This is an exciting milestone for the 48th Fighter Wing and for all our partners.
“We’re transforming RAF Lakenheath together, and the work we do today is critical to the future security of the United States, the United Kingdom and the NATO Alliance.”