RAF Marham is home to Lightning II; the most advanced F-35 fast jet the UK Armed Forces have ever operated. The aircraft will be jointly operated by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy from the Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers and from RAF Marham.
Gleeds has been involved in the basing project for Lightning II since 2010. The £1.8 billion Army Basing Programme was set up in May 2013 as a joint Army and DIO programme to provide the facilities needed to allow nearly 100 Army units to relocate and reconfigure following a UK Government Strategic Defence Review.
Gleeds’ support has been incremental in ensuring smooth operations for RAF Marham since this Strategic Review, which is also home to over 3600 Service Personnel, civil servants, contractors and frontline support.
At the start of the project it was planned to locate the Main Operating Base at RAF Lossiemouth in Morayshire. Following the Strategic Defence and Security Review in late 2010, a number of changes occurred that led to a further review of basing options for Lightning II; these included RAF Lossiemouth becoming the new home of the UK’s Typhoon fleet and the out of service date for the Tornado GR4, currently based at RAF Marham, being brought forward to 2019. This opened the way for Lightning II to be based at RAF Marham in Norfolk.
In addition to ensuring that the runway and other aircraft operating surfaces are suitable for the operation of the F35-B STOVL variant, the project includes a significant upgrade to the HV incomer to the station and construction of Squadron accommodation, upgrade of existing HAS’s, a new Operational Conversion Unit with associated hangars, a new Quick Response Force building adjacent to the new facilities and upgrades of the entire utilities infrastructure to suit the new site laydown. Gleeds also undertook the Assessment study for the Freedom of action elements of the programme that include the National Operating Centre and Integrated Training Centre.