Ministry of Defence insists Turkish RAF Marham jet servicing is a benefit as security concerns raised

PUBLISHED: 18:14 06 April 2017 | UPDATED: 18:14 06 April 2017

The F-35 Lightning making a first flypast over its future home at RAF Marham. Picture: Ian Burt

The F-35 Lightning making a first flypast over its future home at RAF Marham. Picture: Ian Burt

The Ministry of Defence has insisted the UK will benefit from servicing RAF Marham’s F-35 jets in Turkey after concerns about security were raised by a Scottish MP.

The F-35 jet engines, which will have their UK base in Norfolk, will travel to Turkey to have their engines serviced as part of the international defence project. Electrical repairs on the jets will be carried out in Wales.

But SNP MP George Kerevan told the BBC he wants an inquiry into the policy in the light of last year’s attempted coup in Turkey and tensions with its Nato partners.

The US-based joint programme office handed Turkey the contract to provide “deep maintenance” and repair of engines for all F-35 aircraft based in Europe. But there will also be engine repair facilities in Australia and North America.

But Mr Kerevan said the UK should consider setting up back-up facilities.

“The UK should have options in the event of a diplomatic crisis with Turkey,” he told BBC News.

“I want to know what alternative arrangements are in place if it became impossible to have the engines overhauled.”

An Minitry of Defence spokesperson said: “F-35 is an international programme, with maintenance and repair hubs in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific, and a global support network that ensures security of supply for all involved. The UK, along with the other F-35 partner nations, benefit from this approach and the efficiencies it delivers.”

There are nine countries involved in supporting the F-35 programme. These are the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Norway, The Netherlands and Turkey.

A £40m contract to provide training and engineering for the F-35 jets at RAF Marham was announced last week by defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon and US defence secretary General James Mattis.

Construction work at the base is due to be completed early next year and the first planes are due to arrive in Norfolk later in 2018.

The contract was awarded to BAE Systems which has long had a presence at the Norfolk base and provided the engineering for the tornados programme.

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