The Queen has visited RAF Marham today to officially open the base’s new Lightning Operations Centre.
The unit is the first building to have been completed as part of Project Anvil, under which all the necessary infrastructure is being constructed to accommodate the base’s new F-35 Lightning fighter jets.
The planes are due to come into service later this year and the Queen met station personnel along with staff of BAE Systems, contractor Lockheed Martin and Balfour Beatty.
She then unveiled a plaque specially designed by Lockheed Martin for the ceremony.
Defence secretary Gavin Williamson said: “The royal opening of this operations hub for the F-35 brings us another step closer to these pioneering jets flying from their UK home later this year, and their take-off from the magnificent aircraft carrier which proudly bears Her Majesty’s name.
“I’m delighted The Queen has seen what the future holds for the Royal Air Force, particularly as we celebrate a rich 100-year history of brave men and women protecting our skies.”
The visit also saw the Queen present the Firmin Sword of Peace to Marham’s station commander, Group Captain Ian Townsend.
The sword is awarded annually to the unit of the British armed forces which is judged to have made the most valuable contribution to humanitarian relations.
Marham was recognised for its ongoing contribution to the community both during the current construction work and during its long-running operations in Syria and Iraq.
Group Captain Townsend said: “It was wonderful to welcome Her Majesty to RAF Marham today and we are honoured that this was her first Royal Air Force engagement in the RAF’s centenary year.”
Youngsters from Marham’s Cherry Tree Academy and Rainbow Daycare Centre greeted the Queen, who is the station’s Honorary Air Commodore, as she arrived and presented flowers to her as she left.