Hi, I’m David Salmond and I'm Deputy Head of Major Projects in DIO's Programme and Projects Delivery team. With the DIO project team, we’re responsible for delivering the enabling works at RAF Marham in preparation for the arrival and operation of the UK’s F-35B Lightning II aircraft at the Norfolk base.
For those of you unaware of the project, the UK has ordered a number of state of the art F-35 aircraft so that by 2023 up to 24 frontline aircraft will be available to the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force for land- or sea-based deployments. This programme is vital to the future capability of the UK’s Armed Forces and will ensure that the UK has a battle-winning fleet of jets deployable anywhere in the world. RAF Marham will be the main operating base for the F-35B Lightning II with the first aircraft arriving in mid-2018. The first UK squadron of Lightning II will stand up, initially in the US, from 2016 and transition to the UK in 2018 – coherent with drawdown plans for the Tornado GR4.
A lot of changes need to be made to the existing infrastructure in order to facilitate the arrival of the new aircraft. This includes the development of three buildings to enable maintenance, repair and upgrade of the aircraft; the training of F-35 pilots and aircraft maintenance personnel; and coordinated logistics supporting squadron capability.
Our role at DIO is to manage a complex series of projects to provide the vital infrastructure necessary to support the arrival and operation of the Lightning II aircraft and its associated equipment and systems. The enabling works, which are expected to take 21 months to complete, will involve a significant upgrade to the site’s high voltage power supply, the demolition of redundant facilities and the installation of new site-wide utilities. This will enable the later construction packages for the vertical landing pads, hangarage, office and technical facilities, aircraft shelters and servicing platforms plus the refurbishment of runways, taxiways and Hardened Aircraft Shelters.
To get our part of the project started my team have just signed three contracts, worth approximately £25m, to get the vital infrastructure works underway. Two of the contracts, which are part of the major long-term investment programme at the air station, have been awarded to Balfour Beatty with the third going to Henry Brothers.
Enabling Air Power
The awarding of these contracts is a significant step towards the arrival of Lightning II aircraft at RAF Marham. The considerable investment demonstrates the MOD’s long-term commitment to the air station, local community and military capability. The F-35s are the most advanced combat aircraft in the world. Whether operating from land or from one of our two new £3 billion aircraft carriers, they will ensure we have a formidable fighting force and we are incredibly proud to be involved in these projects.