Gallery: ‘Terrible waste’ as RAF Mildenhall announces closure despite multimillion pound investment in facilities

Taken last weekend at RAF Mildenhall. The aircraft is a C-17 Globemaster - by Gary Stedman

Taken last weekend at RAF Mildenhall. The aircraft is a C-17 Globemaster - by Gary Stedman - Credit:

The surprise announcement that RAF Mildenhall will close comes just two years after the US Air Force spent £10 million investing in the runway.

When the major project was announced in 2012, a senior officer from the base said the commitment showed they would be here for “quite a while”.

In October last year a further £3.5 million was invested in bringing a hangar up to modern standards, while significant investment was required before the Osprey CV-22 helicopters arrived in 2013.

The continued investment led to many people believing RAF Lakenheath would be the most likely to close, with Mildenhall due to expand.

Announcing the expansion to the taxiway in 2012, Major Glenn Cameron, of the USAF said: “It’s one of those opportunities to find a good partner and build with them and I’d say we’re here for quite a while.”

The news of the closure in five to seven years’ time took keen aviation photographer Gary Stedman, who has snapped planes at the base for several years, by surprise.

He said: “It seems a terrible waste. Whilst it’s been likely that one of the four major bases in the UK and Germany would close at some point, given that all have surplus capacity, it was not expected that Mildenhall would be the one to go, with Lakenheath next door being the favourite and most likely.

“Major infrastructure investment has been made at Mildenhall, including a new multi-million dollar taxiway that was built last year and only opened a few months ago and upgrades to the hangar and apron area to house the new CV-22 Osprey fleet.”

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Mildenhall Parish Council chairman John Bloodworth, echoed these sentiments. He said: “It did seem to be the case that Lakenheath was going close.

“But you don’t know what they are thinking. Obviously times change and we don’t know what the financial situation is (for the US) at the present time.”