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25 March 2013, 12:25
Thousands of jobs have been saved as RAF Marham is announced the home of the new Joint Strike Fighter planes.
At the moment the Norfolk airbase is home to the Tornado planes but they are set to be decommissioned in the next 10 years.
If RAF Marham hadn't been given the new Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter the base could have been shut. They employ more than 5,000 people and contribute millions to the local economy.
Addressing RAF personnel and civilians at RAF Marham in Norfolk, the Defence Secretary announced that he expected the first aircraft to arrive 2018/2019.
Speaking at RAF Marham this morning, Mr Hammond said: "This is the next step in the restructuring of the Armed Forces, providing them with the world's most capable combat aircraft.
"Basing the new Lightning II at RAF Marham makes strategic sense and best use of the resources available.
"It also secures the future of one of the UK's most operationally experienced bases.
"Now this decision has been taken, we can start the planning and infrastructure investment required for RAF Marham's future.''
RAF Marham Station Commander Group Captain David Cooper said he was delighted at the announcement.
He added: "This is excellent news for my personnel, for the local community and region, and for the Royal Air Force and UK Defence.''
South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said the decision made strategic sense and would also boost the area's economy.
She added: "The Libya campaign, the #50 million worth of engineering facilities, the ongoing presence in Afghanistan all highlighted the real worth of having an operational base in Norfolk.
"The close proximity to the USAF at Lakenheath and Mildenhall is an obvious advantage and with over 5,000 personnel currently working at the base, the substantial wider economic benefits to the region has been estimated at #102 million.
"Today's announcement will provide the reassurance that RAF Marham's future is secure for many, many years to come and is really excellent news for Norfolk as a whole.''
Elizabeth Truss MP said ‘This is really fantastic news and will be warmly welcomed across the whole of the county. Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, Breckland Council, the County Council, fellow MPs, all joined with me, local residents/businesses and the media to campaign for the JSF to be based at Marham. The previous government had earmarked RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland as the preferred base for the JSF but in October 2011 the MOD announced that a full review would be taking place leaving all options open. I have since maintained the pressure on the MOD highlighting the strategic and economic benefits of locating the aircraft at Marham. The Libya campaign, the £50 million worth of engineering facilities, the ongoing presence in Afghanistan all highlighted the real worth of having an operational base in Norfolk. The close proximity to the USAF at Lakenheath and Mildenhall is an obvious advantage and with over over 5000 personnel currently working at the base, the substantial wider economic benefits to the region has been estimated at £102 million. RAF Marham provides many opportunities for apprenticeships, schools, housing plus local shops all enjoy the added bonus of having a major military presence in the locale. In 2011 the Minister Peter Luff wrote to me saying that the requirements of defence would be paramount in any decision but also strong consideration would be given to the impact on local communities, sevice personnel and families. Today’s announcement will provide the reassurance that RAF Marham’s future is secure for many, many years to come and is really excellent news for Norfolk as a whole. ‘