The MoD say it has awarded a contract worth £160m to Kier VolkerFitzpatrick to deliver infrastructure to ready RAF Lakenheath for two squadrons of US F-35 jets.

Although the base is an RAF station, it hosts United States Air Force units and personnel. The host wing is the 48th Fighter Wing, also known as the Liberty Wing.

The contract awarded to Kier VolkerFitzpatrick includes the construction of a flight simulator facility, a maintenance unit, new hangars and storage facilities, say the MoD in a release.

The flight simulator will have the capacity to link to other simulators used pilots across the UK and beyond, allowing expertise to be shared and pilots from the UK and US to train together on a regular basis.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Tobias Ellwood, said:

“For more than one hundred years now our armed forces have fought in defence of our common values and interests. Our two countries have developed the deepest, broadest and most advanced relationship of any two nations.

Today marks another step towards reinforcing the strong partnership between our two nations and an exciting milestone for RAF Lakenheath.

This investment will see substantial benefits to local economy, bringing 1,000 new personnel with their families and we will work hard to ensure that the benefits will last long after construction ends.”

USAF 48th Fighter Wing Commander, Colonel Will Marshall, said:

“This is an exciting milestone for the 48th Fighter Wing and for all our partners. We’re transforming RAF Lakenheath together, and the work we do today is critical to the future security of the United States, the United Kingdom and the NATO Alliance.”

DIO 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.”

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Daniele Mandelli

Didn’t realise Mod picks up infrastructure costs for USVF. Thought US paid?


My guess is that because it’s still officially MoD property, we’re responsible. Like a landlord.

That’s just a guess on my part though.


Does the MOD charge rent then?


Yes as far as I am aware the US leases the bases. But they are owned by the MOD.

Daniele Mandelli

Agree my thinking too.

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation, part of Defence Estates, has a directorate dealing with all US visiting forces matters so I assume it comes out of their budget?


That’s really strange I did not realise this either. Did the US not pay for Diego Garcia etc? I wonder if this would raise the debate again about RAF purchasing F35A if we do make it to 138 since we are already paying for infrastructure.


Don’t quote me on this, but I’m sure I read somewhere that they have never paid money as rent for Diego Garcia, but offered us reduced costs for the acquisition of Polaris/Trident equipment.


That and the cost for actually building and supplying Diego Garcia. Which ran into the billions of dollars.

Daniele Mandelli

I’m surprised.

RAF Menwith Hill has has possibly hundreds of millions spent on it over last decade and Croughton is starting to, with the new joint Intelligence facility there.

I assumed all costs were met by the yanks to upgrade where they see fit. I know some sites like Menwith and Croughton have joint benefit regards the intelligence community and thus benefit UK defence as a whole but I assumed, maybe wrongly, that the US paid.

David Steeper

Guy’s all the USAF bases in the UK are called RAF something that’s because they remain our sovereign territory. This is why when the USAF leaves it is like a tenant leaving a property. It reverts to the landlord to do with as they wish. And like a landlord we’re responsible for it’s upkeep.

Cam Hunter

Are these f35bs then? And will these be the ones that fly from our carriers? It would make sense to base them here but I suspect these are not as it’s the marines f35bs that will fly from our carriers!

Daniele Mandelli



These f35b are simply going to be deployed at Lakenheath, there is no plans for them to have any permanent connection with our two carriers. However like all joint international Operations I’m sure they will take the opportunity to fly from QE /PoW was it arises, much like UK aircraft cross decking with US carriers.


This is USAF. They fly the F-35A, not the B.


Makes the decision not to pick up mildenhall and turn it into a frontline RAF base even stranger.

The US bases in the UK are far superior to the UK bases I have been on – maybe times have changed as it was sometime ago, but it seems to me if we are paying for these bases then we should use them and get rid of others that are less strategic.

Ian L

Not that easy to convert to USAF spec airbase to UK RAF spec, these places are like a small part of the USA ie the onsite buildings are wired to carry 110 volts AC instead od 240 volts AC.
Mind you nice part of the world if you want to buy second hand US cars.


Piece of side trivia, the 48th Fighter Wing is the only USAF wing with both a numerical and named designator. It’s actually known as “The Statue of Liberty Wing” due to its long affiliation with Chaumont AB in France which is only about 30K from where the real thing was cast. Using one of the original molds the wing had a small scale statue produced and set it in front of wing headquarters where it remains to this day. I used to teach the USAF Special Operations Aircraft Capabilities course to French officers there in Chaumont about 2 times a… Read more »

Georg DeLeon

RAF MARHAM 319th Dam Busters supports the CTOL and STOVL variants for the UK.. and will have the support training duties for the F-35 missions on the carriers.. RAF LAKENHEATH supports the CTOL USAF mission. UK defence paid over half a billion pounds to update RAF MARHAM for the F-35 mission so RAF LAKENHEATH is what a third of that? Considering the positive economic impact to the surrounding areas around both areas as well as 15% of the F-35 makeup is British companies contracts.. these upgrade investments PALE in comparison to the billions brought into the country., let alone gaining… Read more »