First new fighter jets touch down at RAF Marham
The first of the new fighter jets to be stationed at RAF Marham have touched down in West Norfolk.
Four of the new F-35 planes landed last night, having been initially grounded by bad weather on their expected arrival date from the United States earlier in the week.
But defence officials say the planes remain two months ahead of schedule, despite the hold-up.
And South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said their arrival was "fantastic" for the area.
She said: "I believe the campaigning by everyone helped to secure the long term future of the base and as a result, RAF Marham will be home to the most sophisticated fighter jet in the world.
"We should all be very proud – the jobs, skills and value to the local economy, in excess of £100 million, is tremendous."
The planes, which will be flown by the 617 Squadron, whose name was made famous by the Dambuster raids of the Second World War, are due to come into operational use later this year. Trials testing their operation aboard aircraft carriers are due to take place this autumn.
More than £500 million has been invested in preparing Marham to serve as the Lightning force's land headquarters, including the development of operating and training centres, maintenance hubs and improved runways.
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, said: "In the RAF’s centenary year, it’s great to see the most advanced and dynamic fighter jet in our history arrive at RAF Marham.
"With the modern Dambusters in the cockpit, this homecoming truly feels like an historic moment in British airpower.
"If you can’t see us coming, you won’t be able to stop us, so with its stealth and other world-beating technologies the F35 Lightning takes the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy to a whole a new level of capability."