RAF Alconbury to benefit from �320 million investment boost

UP TO $500million (�320m) of investment is being planned at RAF Alconbury as the American Airforce looks to make investments that will secure the long-term future of the base and the millions of pounds it pumps into the Huntingdonshire economy each year.

The investment is being planned over the next six to seven years – and the contracts for the work will be going to local companies.

The base, which is owned by the Ministry of Defence, is home to 501st Combat Support Wing of the American Airforce.

And not only do the Americans lease Alconbury, they also have buildings and personnel at RAF Molesworth and, to a lesser extent, at RAF Upwood.

But all that is changing and will continue to be altered in the coming years.

Everything is being moved to RAF Alconbury – a site that will be home to and employ about 6,000 people – US military personnel and UK civilians – should all the plans come to fruition.

Probably of most interest to the residents of the Stukeleys is the $12million project to move the front gate away from homes – a scheme that will help rid the villages of some of the base traffic.

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The Ermine Street entrance to the base will be moved to the rear of the site, with a long access road off Ermine Street.

Major Eric Fajardo, who is commander of the 423rd civil engineering squadron, told The Hunts Post during a tour of the base that, as well as wanting to be a good neighbour, the new gate would help provide the base with added security.

“If there were to be an attack at the gate then it is very close to people’s homes at the moment,” he said.

A temporary entrance is being built for construction traffic that will be generated by the other projects on the base. The entrance will later be given all the security measures you’d expect at a military base.

The work is expected to take place in one to two years’ time, subject to funding from Congress – all the work has military backing, but needs approval from the holders of the purse strings. If the spending is approved – the base commanders are optimistic the money will be made available as there are many outdated and unsuitable buildings at Alconbury – contracts for the work will go through Defence Estates and the contracts awarded to local companies.

And there are some lucrative contracts in the pipeline – the $12m for a new security gate is small fry in comparison to some of the planned projects.

There’s $15m for a new medical centre – the current medical centre is at RAF Upwood, one of the last functions at the base.

However, Maj Fajardo added: “The really big project that we are planning is the relocation of intelligence campus at Molesworth and bringing it here.”

The centre is broken into various parts but in simple terms, it deals with intelligence information and analysis from countries across Europe and the Middle East. The information is used to benefit the American armed forces and NATO.

The move to new buildings at Alconbury is a $270m project.

“We could have used somewhere else in Europe or moved all of this back to the States, but it was felt that Alconbury was the right place.”