THE closure of one RAF base and the rapid expansion of another will only benefit Huntingdonshire, according to the new station commander at RAF Wyton.

Wing Commander Mike Brown will oversee next year's closure of RAF Brampton, a base the RAF has had for 57 years since it was handed over in 1955 by the Americans, who used the site as a base during and after World War Two.

Staff in the Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (JARIC), who are the only people currently working on the base, will move to RAF Wyton as part of the Programme to Rationalise and Integrate the Defence Intelligence Estate (PRIDE).

As part of PRIDE, Wyton will expand from 800 civil and military positions, to around 1,400 as it continues to become an intelligence hub.

By the end of 2014 it will be home to the RAF's geospacial intelligence community, the Intelligence Collection Group (ICG), the Joint Aerospatial and Geospatial Organisation (JAGO), and the 42 Engineer Regiment (Geographic).

Wg Cdr Brown said: "We use a combination of aerial views, pictures, and reports to produce maps, 3D models and reports, to support operations and give commanders knowledge of the terrain to make sure they know of the best ways to attack and defend positions.

"Our intelligence is a real strategic asset for the armed forces. A mix of experience and training enables us to provide accurate information to war zone commanders so that they make informed decisions on troops and transport."

Although bound by security rules, he said that the staff were working on areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

In two years' time, PRIDE will be completed and Wg Cdr Brown believes it will secure the future of RAF Wyton.

"It's a strategic move for the RAF's geospatial intelligence to be based in one place and Wyton is the perfect place for it as it has a long history in intelligence.

"There has been lots of coverage of cutting RAF jobs in the news, but I think that Wyton will have a thriving future with PRIDE starting a new chapter in its book.

"We will have a new high-spec hub for geospatial intelligence which will mean that Wyton will go from strength to strength.

"I can't put a sum on it, but nearly doubling the number of staff at Wyton and a new development at Brampton can only benefit these communities."

Wg Cdr Brown ruled out RAF planes using the base and said that the number of training flights at Wyton would probably not increase, especially with Government cuts in armed forces funding.