US to move its UK air intelligence operations to Northamptonshire

RAF Croughton is set to receive around 1,300 new staff.
RAF Croughton is set to receive around 1,300 new staff.

More than 1,200 US service personnel and their families will transfer to RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire after the American air Force announced it was shutting three of its UK bases.

Yesterday US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, said the United States Air Force (USAF) will vacate airbases it currently leases for operations at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk as wells as RAF Alconbury and RAF Molesworth in Huntingdonshire.

The move is part of a bid to save the US £320m a year across Europe and would result in 1,500 jobs lost in the Huntingdonshire bases alone.

However it means 1,200 communications and intelligence personnel are expected to transfer from RAF Alconbury and RAF Molesworth to RAF Croughton, near Brackley.

MP for South Northamptonshire Andrea Leadsome has welcomed the move, saying the measures would provide an economic boost to the surrounding area.

She said: “This is excellent news.

“I’m delighted at the new investment in the base in Croughton, reinforcing its position as a key landmark of South Northamptonshire.

“The entire country should take pride in the US Government’s resounding vote of confidence in the UK. It shows – yet again – the huge importance which both countries attach to our relationship.”

A spokesperson for RAF Croughton said US military members and their families will be moved in phases to the Northamptonshire base by 2022.

“We will continue to work closely with our civilian personnel experts and the Ministry of Defence to best mitigate the impact to our civilian and local national employees.” The spokesman said. “We aim to be as transparent as possible throughout this process.”

The relocated staff will be from within the “intelligence and support elements” of the RAF Molesworth and RAF Alconbury, UK, which the USAF says will allow the US to keep a “strong intelligence relationship with the U.K,” while and allowing for greater cost savings.

A Joint Intelligence Analytic Centre is set to be built at Croughton to accommodate the new employees. Building would begin in 2016.

The spokesman continued: “RAF Croughton renovations are set to continue over the next seven years, and will be a major investment in the local area.

“These modernizations and improvements include a new dormitory, commissary, fitness centre and medical clinic, as well as a base exchange renovation that will all directly benefit installation personnel and allow the community to grow.”