Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 27°C

min temp: 17°C

ESTD 1874 Search

RAF Lakenheath: Future of air base unclear after it’s recommended for closure in report commissioned by United States government

12:06 19 March 2014

Archant

The future of the country’s biggest US Air Force base has been plunged into more doubt after a report commissioned by the US government recommended it for closure.

RAF Lakenheath would be closed under two of the three options put forward by the global think tank RAND Corporation in its report for the US Department of Defense examining the world’s most powerful military’s presence overseas.

Thousands of military and civilian staff at Lakenheath live off-base in the local area, while it and neighbouring RAF Mildenhall pump more than £500million into the local economy every year having been stalwarts of west Suffolk since World War Two.

But the base’s 74-year affiliation with the area could soon be over as the US Air Force prepares for drastic spending cuts totalling billions of dollars, with RAND’s report recommending Lakenheath for closure under two options and relocating its resident 48th Fighter Wing to another base in the third, leaving the base open with just its intelligence and communication operations remaining.

James Waters, leader of Forest Heath District Council, said: “We’ve got a good broad base in our local economy, lots of expertise in working with the American bases and supporting local business, so I’m confident we’ll deal with whatever comes our way.

“Forest Heath has a really strong focus on our local economy so we won’t be waiting to see what happens - we’ll be in there talking to people, finding out what support we can give and doing all we can to make sure what’s happening at the bases isn’t to the detriment of our local area.”

Earlier this year this newspaper exclusively revealed that thousands of troops could leave both bases as part of the drive to cut costs, which Graham Abbey, chairman of Newmarket & District Chamber of Commerce, said would have a “huge impact” on the area.

“If you think about the employment locally, across both bases they employ a good few hundred local people, probably even into the thousands,” he added.

“It would also impact on the spend in the local community. The other thing in there as well is there’s lots of housing let out to the bases. There’s three major areas it would have an impact on, it would have a huge impact.”

RAND’s report is just one part of the ongoing European Infrastructure Consolidation (EIC) review underway by the US Department of Defense, the results of which are due to be published later this year.

A spokesman for United States Air Force Europe said: “Until the EIC is complete, it would be premature to discuss any changes to US Air Force basing in Europe.”

Closing RAF Lakenheath could save the air force $314m every year, according to the 487-page report. The base costs the US Air Force $211m annually.

RAF Mildenhall, which costs $222m every year, is home to the 100th Air Refuelling Wing and is considered a key tactical base.

While it is left untouched by two of RAND’s three options, the other would see staff there return to the United States while it remained open as just a more modest refuelling base.

Master Sergeant Zachary Melin from RAF Lakenheath said yesterday: “There’s nothing new that we know at this stage. These decisions are all being made at a higher level.”

5 comments

  • Yes agreed. Then we could start moving all of the British out if the United States. :-)

    Report this comment

    Megan Lamey

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • Can you imagine the impact on the local economy!!!

    Report this comment

    Lolly

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • Of course there'd be tons of housing....LOADS of housing.....vast unemployment around the area but loads of housing.....!!!

    Report this comment

    Lolly

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • Some people don't have to imagine the impact it would cause. It would be a repeat of 1993 when RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge closed.

    Report this comment

    ghaynes

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • This would free up housing for British people. A new town could be built on the airfield (one of George Osbourne's garden cities)

    Report this comment

    John Haseltine

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Pupils sitting an exam. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Girls are expected to yet again outperform boys on GCSE results day this year.

GCSE Results Day - St Benedict’s Catholic School in Bury. Left to right, Tia Lowman, Niall Morris, Rachel Ellis, Georgina Coll, Peter Bryan, Ben Campbell, Abin Jose.

Youngsters across Suffolk will this morning end their anxious wait as they pick up their GCSE results.

Argument took place in McDonald's car park (stock photo)

A Colchester mother-of-five accused of being involved in a violent row with another woman in a McDonald’s car park in the town has claimed she was defending herself after being hit in the mouth.

Friends and family gathered in Holbrook to give Sam Hall a heroes welcome. Sam has just cycled the length of France in order to raise money for charity in memory of his late brother, Archie Hall.
L-R William and Henry Bawley, Laura Hall, Sam Hall, Eve and John Hopkins.

Sam Hall was given a hero’s welcome by friends and family last night as he arrived at his Holbrook home after completing a 900-mile cycle ride in memory of his brother.

A12 closed following serious collision

A stretch of the A12 was closed this morning following a serious collision at Sandon, near Chelmsford.

Gambling addict damaged machine

A gambling addict flew into a rage and damaged a £1,000 fruit machine after losing money at an Ipswich amusement arcade, a court has heard.

Essex Police are attempting to find the owners of photos on storage cards seized by officers at Stansted Airport.

As part of an investigation into theft at Stansted Airport, Essex Police are attempting to trace the owners of images found on digital storage cards.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24