RAF Lakenheath £160m investment will see 70 jobs created
- Credit: Archant
An investment of more than £160m into RAF Lakenheath will bring 50 apprenticeships and 70 jobs to the area and see a significant boost to the local economy.
Building work began on Monday on new hangars, storage, maintenances units and a flight simulator, that will be home to 54 US Air Force F-35s.
The first phase of construction is being undertaken by the Kier VolkerFitzptrick joint venture.
Managing director of Aviation and Defence for Kier Group, James Hindes, said: "The construction of the facility is costing £160m, 40pc of that spend will be on local supplies in a 17-mile radius of the base.
"We are also taking on 50 apprentices, six of whom have already started, and 70 new jobs."
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The building work will see up to 700 people working on the base with the first planes expected to arrive in 2021.
Chairman of West Suffolk Council, Brian Harvey, who used to be stationed at the base, said: "This is not only good for the major contractors but it is also good for our young apprentices working in the area.
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"It shows the long-term commitment to the area and the UK government works very closely with the American government but in the local community the American personnel interface with the community as well, in restaurants, pubs and clubs."
Over the next six years a number of extra facilities will be created including a hospital, high school, running track and accommodation for the additional personnel.
The F-35 will be used as part of two squadrons with RAF Lakenheath becoming the first European base for the new jets.
Commander of 48th Fighter Wing Colonel Will Marshall said: "The F-35 will bring on a whole new generation of combat capabilities to the United States Air Force. One of the great things about the F-35 is that it is being operated by our partners and allies around the world and uniquely here with RAF Marham up the road operating it here will strengthen our relationship with our RAF partners."
The US Air Force has been using the F-35 for the past two years.
Colonel Marshall added: "It is very new, we are still working on final improvements as aeroplanes are coming off the production line."