The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded a contract to the Kier VolkerFitzpatrick joint venture for the delivery of new infrastructure to support two US F-35 squadrons at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath.

Under the £160m contract, the company will provide additional infrastructure to prepare the Lakenheath airforce station in Suffolk, England, for the joint strike fighter fleet.

The project also includes the development of a flight simulator facility, a maintenance unit, hangars and storage facilities in the location.

RAF Lakenheath will serve as the first permanent international home for the US Air Force’s (USAF) F-35 Lightning II combat jets in Europe.

This effort to be carried out under the F-35 Beddown Programme will help bolster the long-term military ties between the UK and the US, and strengthen the partnership between the airforces of the two nations.

“Over the next seven to ten years, more than $1bn is expected to be invested in the UK with an aim to support USAF operations in Britain.”

Kier Aviation and Defence managing director James Hindes said: “We’re extremely proud to have been appointed to deliver another prestigious defence project for Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO).”

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Hindes added: “We look forward to working closely with the DIO and our local supply chain to provide this crucial infrastructure and deliver this exciting opportunity ready for the arrival of the two permanent squadrons.”

The new flight simulator to be delivered by Kier VolkerFitzpatrick will be able to link to other simulators used by pilots across the UK and beyond, enabling pilots from the UK and the US to train together on a regular basis.

At the peak of the construction phase, the project is expected to be supported by up to 700 contractors on site. More than 1,000 new personnel and their family members will be accommodated at the Suffolk site.

Major construction works are scheduled to commence mid-2019, preparing RAF Lakenheath for the arrival of the first F-35 fighter aircraft from November 2021.

Over the next seven to ten years, more than $1bn is expected to be invested in the UK with an aim to support USAF operations in Britain.