BAE Systems has been awarded a £118 million contract to build engineering and training facilities at RAF Marham, in readiness for the arrival of the UK’s first F-35 Lightning II aircraft in 2018.
The contract award coincides with the early completion of the tenth aft fuselage for the UK aircraft at BAE Systems’ manufacturing site in Samlesbury, Lancashire.
The deal for the new facilities has been done with Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor of the F-35 aircraft programme.
With work beginning at RAF Marham this month, BAE Systems will construct three facilities to support the operation of the F-35 fleet; a maintenance and finish facility, a logistics operations centre and an integrated training centre. The work is scheduled to be completed in 2018.
Cliff Robson, senior vice-president for F-35 Lightning II at BAE Systems military air and information business, said: “The construction work at RAF Marham signals the start of an exciting time for the BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin team as the UK prepares for the arrival of the first F-35 Lightning II jets.
“The contract also underlines BAE Systems’ continued involvement with the F-35 Lightning II programme and our company’s credentials in providing infrastructure for the UK’s military aircraft operations.
“We have a proven pedigree in delivering maintenance and support to the Royal Air Force fast jet fleets at bases throughout the UK including RAF Marham where we have been supporting the operation of the Tornado GR4 fleet for the last decade.”
Today’s announcement coincides with a major production milestone for the UK aircraft – the completion of the tenth UK aft fuselage ahead of schedule. The fuselage will now be delivered to the F-35 final assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas.
The milestone was welcomed by Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon.
He said: “This is an important milestone in the delivery of the UK’s new cutting-edge combat aircraft. It underlines the vital contribution British industry is making to the global F-35 programme.
“The planes are part of our plan for stronger and better defence, backed by a budget that is rising this year for the first time in six years, and will keep rising until the end of the decade.”