New £1.2bn squadron planned for Marham

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More than £1 billion is set to be spent on a second squadron of the new generation of British fighter jets to be based at RAF Marham, it has been revealed.

The base is already set to be home to the initial fleet of F-35 joint strike fighter planes when they come into service in three years’ time.

But, as part of its review of future defence spending, the government this week announced plans for a second F-35 unit as well as two new Typhoon squadrons.

Prime minister David Cameron said the announcement was “very good news” for Marham when questioned by North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham in the House of Commons on Monday.

And Mr Bellingham said afterwards: “I am delighted £1.2 billion is being invested in a new fighter squadron at RAF Marham.

“This investment will ensure a Royal Navy Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier is able to deploy with 24 jets on board from 2023.

“While operating from the new aircraft carriers, the F35 Joint Strike Fighters will be based at RAF Marham when not embarked on the carriers.

“This means RAF Marham will continue its impeccable service in our current defence strategy.”

The announcement came amid continuing debate about the role our armed forces should play in the fight against the so-called Islamic State, following the terror atrocities in Paris earlier this month.

It also formed part of the government’s spending review which culminated with chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement on Wednesday afternoon.

The two most significant announcements saw the scrapping of cuts to working tax credits and police funding.

Opponents of the government’s previous stance had claimed that as many as three million people nationally would be substantially worse off under the welfare changes.

And, in September, police chiefs announced a review of the structure of the Norfolk force amid their fears of the potential impact of further severe cuts in their budget.

Mr Bellingham said: “This statement delivers on the promise we made to working people in North West Norfolk that we would put their security first, protecting our economic security by taking the difficult decisions to live within our means and bring our debts down.”

He added: “I welcome the Chancellor’s decision to protect the police as they protect us, the public, on a daily basis.”