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Video/Gallery: RAF Mildenhall - US airbase set to close as part of sweeping reorganisation in Europe

PUBLISHED: 14:17 08 January 2015 | UPDATED: 18:03 08 January 2015

RAF Mildenhall USAF airfield. Photo: Mike Page

RAF Mildenhall USAF airfield. Photo: Mike Page

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The US Air Force Base RAF Mildenhall is closing, with its 3,200 personnel relocated across Europe.

A statement about the base is due to be made in the House of Commons this afternoon but the US defence news site, Stars and Stripes, said today that the Suffolk base, home to the USAF special operations forces and refuelling tankers, will close as part of a sweeping reorganisation across Europe.

The changes will also see two squadrons of F-35s relocated to RAF Lakenheath by 2020

The move will see RAF Mildenhall’s 352nd Special Operations Wing move to Germany.

Two other US facilities in the UK – RAF Alconbury and Molesworth near Huntingdon – will also close. Most of their missions, which support other USAF bases, will move to RAF Croughton.

RAF Mildenhall

• RAF Mildenhall opened on October 16, 1934

• More than 4,000 people are employed at RAF Mildenhall

• The base is worth an estimated £250m a year to the local economy

• During the Second World War it was used by both the British and American forces

• It was taken over by the USAF full-time in 1950

• From the 1960s to 1980s it was home to the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird - which holds the air speed record for a manned aircraft

Further closures are also taking place in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Portugal.

The Pentagon expects to save $500m a year from the consolidations, which have been under review for more than a year.

Today’s announcement comes after local and national politicians had been briefed about the proposals – and attention is now switching to finding new uses for the bases – and new jobs for the workers affected.

While there are 3,200 service personnel based at Mildenhall, it also provides many civilian jobs – and supports far more in the local community where American service personnel spend their money in shops, restaurants, pubs and leisure facilities.

An Osprey at RAF MildenhallAn Osprey at RAF Mildenhall

What’s at RAF Mildenhall?

RAF Mildenhall is home to the USAF 100th Air Refueling Wing. It conducts air refueling and combat support operations throughout Europe and Africa.

It is formed of:

•100th Operations Group which provides air refueling to Air Combat Command (ACC), Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), Air Mobility Command (AMC), United States European Command (EUCOM), United States African Command (AFRICOM), and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies. The group’s two squadrons have 15 KC-135R aircraft

•The 100th Maintenance Group keeps the aircraft mission-ready

•The 100th Mission Support Group consists of five squadrons. The group ensures the capability of the base to deploy, receive, employ and sustain Air Expeditionary Forces. The group also provides support to approximately 16,800 military, civilian, dependent and retirees, as well as law enforcement on the 1,100-acre site

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