Surprise over airbase flying hours cuts

COMMUNITY leaders have spoken of their surprise after plans to cut flying hours at the region's American airbases were announced.The cutbacks at RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath are understood to have been made in a bid to pay for the global war on terror.

COMMUNITY leaders have spoken of their surprise after plans to cut flying hours at the region's American airbases were announced.

The cutbacks at RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath are understood to have been made in a bid to pay for the global war on terror.

Military chiefs have been forced to make massive cuts aimed at reducing a massive $3 billion (£1.64m) shortfall in the United States Air Force budget.

While most of the cuts had been made in non-essential areas, the decision to reduce flying hours at bases throughout Europe has shocked the communities living near the bases.


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Beck Row Parish Council chairman Gerry Brown said: "We were aware they were tightening things inside the base but this is quite surprising.

"The amount of training the American military have to do, I would have thought flying hours would have been the last thing they would cut back on.

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"I think any resident would welcome less noise near their homes – although it is not that intrusive.

"You have to expect some noise living near an airport and the jet engines used to be a lot worse in the 1980s."

Announcing the cuts, Capt Alisen Iversen , deputy public affairs chief at the USAFE (United States Air Force in Europe) headquarters in Germany, told forces newspaper Stars and Stripes: "We have made this decision to cut flying hours but the amount will depend on other efficiencies in both our flying program and other operations and maintenance programs.

"We are carefully studying this decision from a readiness and safety standpoint to find the smart way ahead to meet our target savings and yet not reduce the readiness levels of our pilots and aircrews from their ability to perform their assigned missions and to remain combat ready.

"Flight safety will not be affected – safety is always our foremost consideration in all we do."

Cuts have already been made at the two USAF bases in training procedures, postponing new civilian jobs and curtailing some equipment expenditure.

And, in April, base officials at RAF Mildenhall revealed they had been forced to axe a scaled down version of the Mildenhall Air Show.

The ticket-only community appreciation day was expected to attract 25,000 visitors and provide a boost to the local economy.

Speaking at the time, base commander Colonel Richard Devereaux said: "When the first round of funding reductions came in, I was determined to press on with the community appreciation day and take the cuts elsewhere.

"However, the recent cuts have been much bigger and have given me no choice but to take this very disappointing decision."

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