Report raises threat of closure of RAF Lakenheath, the country’s biggest US Air Force base

An F-15 taking off at RAF Lakenheath An F-15 taking off at RAF Lakenheath

Wednesday, March 19, 2014
9:53 AM

A report commissioned by the United States government has suggested spending cuts could mean the closure of the country’s biggest US Air Force base.

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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 £500m into the local economy every year.

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

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.”

RAND’s report is just one part of the ongoing European Infrastructure Consolidation (EIC) review under way 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.

What do you think? Write to EDP Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE giving your name, address and contact number.

6 comments

  • With what is happening in eastern europe, closure seems a most unlikely scenario.

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    Dictate

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • I think they will continue to occupy our country for some while.

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    A M

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • I think they will continue to occupy our country for some while.

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    A M

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • Good, I am fed up with them practising overheard, the sooner they go the better.

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    Catton Man

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • Mr. Old Long Balls that is the sound of freedom you are experiencing overhead and in light of all the defense cuts here and in the US, you should be thankful that the worlds two best air forces are keeping razor sharp in defense of the realm for that is what they are doing. I live in Eye just east of Peterborough and my day is not compete without hearing the DACT practice our aircrews are getting here. Mildenhall is critical to the refueling mission and the special ops missions being staged there as it also provides search and rescue when needed.

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    Kirk Dusenberry

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • Good, I am fed up with them practising overheard, the sooner they go the better.

    Report this comment

    Catton Man

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

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

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