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UK NEWS

USAF confirms closure of RAF Mildenhall base

Mar 05, 2015
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has confirmed that The United States Air Force (USAF) is to pull out of RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, RAF Alconbury and RAF Molesworth in Cambridgeshire.

The move is part of a wider programme across Europe to save around $500m a year. The USAF’s tanker fleet currently based at Mildenhall will be moved to Germany.

Mr Hagel said he understood the decision would mean job losses and thanked those who had supported the US Air Force. "I know that this will result in a reduction of our local host nation’s workforces at some locations; I value the tremendous support they provided us for decades.”

The Pentagon said the closure will mean the loss of about 2,000 US military and civilian personnel but will be offset by the addition of about 1,200 people being stationed permanently at Lakenheath. Two squadrons of new F-35 jets (48 aircraft) will be based there by 2020.

Matthew Hancock, West Suffolk MP and Minister of State for Business, Enterprise and Energy, said he would support the community affected. Mr Hancock said, "I have met with the defence secretary, and others in government to ensure we can work, together with the American administration, to support the community. We will create a Mildenhall, Alconbury and Molesworth (MAM) Working Group, which I will chair, inviting local LEPs [local enterprise partnerships], councils, the Ministry of Defence and US representatives to ensure no stone is left unturned in supporting Mildenhall and the surrounding area."

James Waters, leader of Forest Heath District Council said, "The USAF contributes significantly to the local economy so the expansion of RAF Lakenheath, and with it the US government's commitment to the site as part of its long-term plans, is very welcome. But this happiness is obviously tempered by our sadness that Mildenhall is to close.”

Mildenhall has around 3,200 military personnel, with 400-500 UK civilian staff employed there.

Picture: RAF Mildenhall

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