Hopes that the RAF’s world-leading Red Arrows aerobatic display team would become a regular sight in the skies north of Huntingdonshire have been dashed.
North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara, who had been campaigning to bring the team to RAF Wittering, said it was a “huge disappointment” that a decision had been made to base them elsewhere.
RAF Wittering, in the MP’s constituency, had been identified as one of three possible bases for the Red Arrows but the Ministry of Defence has announced that they will now be moving from their present home at RAF Scampton to RAF Waddington.
Mr Vara said: “The news that the Red Arrows will not be coming to RAF Wittering comes as a huge disappointment, especially after so much work has been put in trying to persuade the Ministry of Defence of the merits of RAF Wittering.
“It would have been a great honour to have the world famous Red Arrows based locally and of course there would have been a boost to the local economy too.”
Jeremy Quinn, Minister of State for Defence Procurement, told Mr Vara: “I know that you have made a number of personal and persuasive representations to bring the team to RAF Wittering, and I understand this will come as disappointing news to you and your constituents.”
The world famous team is having to move from RAF Scampton because the historic station is being closed.
Mr Quinn said: “Following recent safety assessment, RAF Leeming and RAF Wittering were deemed not to be viable locations. RAF Waddington has been identified as the most suitable option for the Red Arrows, with the current airspace over RAF Scampton continuing to be used for training.”
He thanked Mr Vara for his support during the process.
RAF Wittering, beside the A1 near Peterborough, is best-known for being the former home of the Harrier jump-jet but its main role now is as the base for the RAF’s A4 Force which provides engineering and logistics support.
Mr Vara had been working with local councils in the campaign to bring the Red Arrows to RAF Wittering, raising the issue on the floor of the House of Commons as well as arranging a ministerial meeting.