£160m Contract Awarded To Get RAF Lakenheath Ready For US F-35s

The first aircraft will arrive at the Suffolk base in 2021.

The first F-35A training deployment overseas was marked by an arrival at RAF Lakenheath in 2017 (Picture: US Air Force).

The Ministry of Defence has awarded a contract worth £160m make RAF Lakenheath ready to host two squadrons of US F-35 aircraft.

The Suffolk base to become the first permanent international site for American F-35s in Europe, with the first of the new aircraft arriving in 2021.

Kier VolkerFitzpatrick will deliver infrastructure to prepare Lakenheath for the role, including the construction of a flight simulator facility, a maintenance unit, new hangars and storage facilities.

The flight simulator will have the capacity to link to other simulators used by pilots across the UK and beyond, allowing expertise to be shared and pilots from Britain and the US to train together on a regular basis.

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.”

The announcement comes after the US pledged to spend $148,467,000 (roughly £116,730,694) on at Lakenheath.

More than $1bn is expected to be invested in the UK in the next ten years.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Tobias Ellwood, said: “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," he said.

RAF Lakenheath
Building work at Lakenheath will begin next year (Picture: US Dept Of Defense).

“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 the 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."

Work at the base will begin in the summer of 2019.