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Lightning Progress at RAF Marham

Hi, I’m Lieutenant Colonel Ian Jenkins and DIO’s on-site project manager at RAF Marham overseeing the DIO portion of the infrastructure uplift required to support the F-35B aircraft arrival at the Station in 2018.

An infographic showing the work DIO will complete at RAF Marham. [Crown Copyright/MOD2016]
An infographic showing the work DIO will complete at RAF Marham. [Crown Copyright/MOD2016]
Having spent 18 years in the Royal Engineers and  having worked on a variety of projects including force protection engineering and small compound utility provision from Northern Ireland to Afghanistan (via Iraq and a couple of other places), and with operational and planning roles thrown in, this is actually my first posting working with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO).

My daily duties vary from numerous meetings on this mammoth programme to getting out and about on site to visit the various contractors that are helping to deliver it. Engagement with all stakeholders both internal and external is critical in my role to ensure success.

The undertaking of this project is vast, and numerous works have already been completed on behalf of DIO. This includes the careful demolition of old buildings, some of which date back to WWII and have walls as thick as 1.4m in depth. This work was the focus of a blog by my predecessor Lieutenant Colonel Grant Kerr last July. These old buildings have made way for the likes for a new Squadron Headquarters, aircraft shelters and technical training facilities.

Demolition of the structures has been by both conventional means and the chemical demolition technique. [Crown Copyright/MOD2016]
Work is progressing nicely but has not been without a few unplanned discoveries. Just recently, as part of the digging of the 9km Multi Service Trench which will support the internal power supply for the F-35s, a contractor found 217 previously unmarked pipes and cables over a 200m stretch of  ground. Some of these were live electrical cables made of lead and paper dating back to the 1930s.  No doubt, a site as old as Marham will throw up some more surprise findings throughout the project and these will be carefully managed by me, my team, and the contractors on the ground.

The task in hand in delivering this infrastructure programme is only just heading to the halfway point for us and, while certain enabling work packages have already been completed such as demolitions and a new access gate for contractors due to be opened very soon, there are still very significant major works to be completed including; finishing the utilities upgrades to the station, the installation of vertical landing pads, servicing platforms, construction of new training and operating facilities, refurbishment of the old Hardened Aircraft Shelters and the single biggest Air Operating Surface re-build in the UK in living memory – we’ll be rebuilding two runways on an operational airbase.

The UK F-35B Lightning II set to operate from RAF Marham and the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers.[Crown copyright/MOD 2016]
However, all personnel involved, both military and civilian are all working towards the same goal; the MOD’s long-term commitment to the Station, local community and military capability. The F-35 is one of the most advanced multirole combat aircraft in the world and whether they are operating from land or from one of our two new £3 billion aircraft carriers, they represent a step-change in military capability and we are all excited to be part of a project that will benefit the UK Armed Forces for the next generation.

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