The latest step in the RAF Lossiemouth revamp has been completed with the conclusion of a £75million runway resurfacing.
Contractor VolkerFitzpatrick has worked through the coronavirus pandemic on the project after beginning work in January.
However, despite the challenges posed, crews were still able to complete the work several months ahead of schedule.
Extra safety measures were introduced for contractor crews, including regular tests for Covid-19 while working on the base.
The runway and other parts of the airfield at RAF Lossiemouth have had to be upgraded due to the arrival of the new P-8 Poseidon fleet, which is substantially heavier than the Typhoon jets.
Work was done at the Moray base to strengthen and extend the runway for the larger aircraft.
It is estimated that the project will extend the lifespan of the landing strip by up to 25 years.
Wing Commander Pete Beckett, director of RAF Lossiemouth’s development programme, said: “The completion of the runway work represents the first major upgrade to be delivered by the programme and to have such a complex project delivered some three months early in the challenging context of 2020 cannot be under-estimated.
“For the wider programme though, this is just the start. We already have one major project in delivery and expect to start another five projects in the first half of 2021.
“While we have secured the station’s operational output through the new operating surfaces, we now turn more towards the people-focussed improvements where we are going to upgrade both working and living accommodation.”
Other upgrades due to be done at RAF Lossiemouth following the runway upgrade include a new air traffic control tower, enhanced drainage and electrical supplies and new facilities for IX Squadron.
The airfield resurfacing resulted in the new P-8 Poseidon fleet spending its early months operating from nearby Kinloss Barracks while the Typhoon quick reaction alert (QRA) mission temporarily relocated to Leuchars in Fife.
Station commander, Group Captain Chris Layden, said: “It’s been a privilege to see our newly resurfaced runway so busy since its early completion.
“We’ve already conducted joint training with F-35B Lightning aircraft from 207 Squadron and been joined by a large US Navy detachment.
“That is of course in addition to our usual 24/7 Typhoon and Poseidon operations. Lossiemouth now really is a next-generation maritime patrol and fighter station.”
Keith Maplethorpe, VolkerFitzpatrick’s development director, said: “Completing the works ahead of schedule has been a collaborative effort and is testament to the ongoing commitment of our teams to ensure that key projects can continue throughout this pandemic. We are looking forward to the next project at RAF Lossiemouth.”
Russ Liddington, the MoD’s project manager for the resurfacing, said: “The runway resurfacing and associated works, such as installing new drainage and airfield lighting, will see the runway life extended by up to 25 years. I’d also like to thank the local community for their support which is much appreciated by us all.”