USAF could pull out of Alconbury and Molesworth by 2020


USAF - Credit: Archant

THE US Airforce is considering pulling out of RAF Alconbury and RAF Molesworth by 2020, The Hunts Post understands.

Documents seen by this newspaper say the possible closure of the bases has been the subject of discussion since the end of 2011.

If they were to close, moving operations to RAF Croughton, in Northamptonshire, would be considered.

Talks are continuing and a decision on the proposals is yet to be made but it is understood one will be made in the near future.

Were the outcome to be in favour of the Americans pulling out, a complete closure could happen as soon as 2019 or 2020.

A statement released by the US Airforce did not deny it was considering its future at Alconbury and Molesworth. Instead, it confirmed it was looking at ways to make cuts.

Staff Sgt Brian Stives, 501st Combat Support Wing spokesman, said: “The Secretary of Defence has mandated cost-cutting efficiencies across the US forces.

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“US Airforce requested that each of the subordinate units identified potential structure changes to fulfil that mandate.

“We have consulted and will continue to consult with our partners on the specific issues of force structure changes at bases throughout the United Kingdom.”

The Ministry of Defence, which employs staff for the bases who provide services for US personnel, declined to comment.

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly said: “I have not formally heard from the US Airforce.

“But given the importance of Alconbury to the local economy, about £40m a year was the last figure I heard, I shall certainly be contacting them to ask them to explain the position.”

Councillor Nick Guyatt, deputy leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, said the amount of revenue generated for the local economy by the bases was “very substantial”.

But he played down the prospects for closure. “We have heard the rumours,” he said. “As far as we are aware the rumours are untrue.”

Back in 2010, the Americans were looking at investing heavily in RAF Alconbury – moving the medical centre from RAF Upwood and relocating its main gate away from the Stukeleys.

In all, the total investment in Alconbury, including new schools for the base children, was estimated at $500million but was subject to funding from Congress.

It was hoped that all of the American activities in Huntingdonshire could be condensed on to Alconbury, making it a hub for about 6,000 people.