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Sun December 16 2018

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Contract awarded for £160m upgrades at Suffolk US air base

20 Nov Hundreds of construction jobs are set to be created in Suffolk following the award of a £160m contract to prepare a US Air Force base for the arrival of two squadrons of F-35 fighter jets.

A joint venture of Kier and VolkerFitzpatrick will deliver new infrastructure at RAF Lakenheath under the F-35 Beddown Programme, which is part of a wider tranche of work to support the US Air Force operations in the UK. The contract has been awarded by the UK’s Ministry of Defence.

The contract involves construction and renovation of a number of buildings and infrastructure projects on the Suffolk site, including a six-bay flight simulator, an aircraft maintenance unit, new hangars and 42 aircraft parking aprons. 

The JV has promised to engage with the local community, create new jobs, host meet-the-buyer events and procure at least 40% of the supply chain within a 75-mile radius of the site.  At the height of construction, it is expected there will be up to 700 people on site supporting the programme.

The JV said that it will address the skills shortage facing the built environment by creating a skills and training academy that will provide training opportunities for local residents and ex-armed forces personnel. The MOD is working with Forest Heath District Council and Kier VolkerFitzpatrick to ensure that the opportunities to create employment and training are maximised to ensure they last beyond the end of construction.

Defence Infrastructure Organisation commercial director Jacqui Rock said: “We welcome this investment into RAF Lakenheath. This is an incredible opportunity for UK Defence and for the local area and DIO is pleased to be able to support the development of this key infrastructure which will make the beddown of the US F-35s possible.”

The contract has been designed so that the enabling work can begin immediately on the award. Building work is programmed to start in the summer next year so that the base is ready for the arrival of the first of the new aircraft from November 2021.

The contract award is the first in a wider programme of work to support US Air Force operations in the UK, with more than US$1bn expected to be in invested in the UK over the next seven to 10 years.

MPU

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