Expansion plan will see new aircraft at US air base

A U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey from the 8th Special Operations Squadron "Black Birds" flies during a local training mission at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Feb. 1, 2011. The CV-22 Ospreys primary mission is insertion, extraction, and re-supply of unconventional warfare forces and equipment into hostile or enemy-controlled territory using airland or airdrop procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller/Released)
A U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey from the 8th Special Operations Squadron "Black Birds" flies during a local training mission at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Feb. 1, 2011. The CV-22 Ospreys primary mission is insertion, extraction, and re-supply of unconventional warfare forces and equipment into hostile or enemy-controlled territory using airland or airdrop procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller/Released)

An expansion of military capabilities at RAF Mildenhall will see the arrival of Osprey and Commando II aircraft from later this month.

The United States Air Force (USAF) 352nd Special Operations Group will receive ten CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and 12MC-130J Commando II fixed-wing aircraft.

In addition 900 more USAF staff and family members are expected to be posted to RAF Mildenhall.

Col. Christopher Ireland, 352nd Special Operations Group commander, said: “We are welcoming back vertical airlift to Special Operations Forces in Europe.

“It’s been almost six years since we’ve had it here, and this modernisation of the force improves our efficiency and effectiveness.

“We’re increasing in aircraft, operators, maintainers and support personnel. With the growth, we’ll be able to more-fully support operations requirements and partner nation training opportunities.”

The expansion comes two months after fiscal difficulties led to the USAF to reduce training flights out of the base.

The presence of the USAF in Mildenhall and Lakenheath brings an estimated £580m to the local economy.

Deputy leader of Forest Heath District Council, Nigel Roman, said: “This must be a good news for town and the area.”

Cllr Roman said he welcomed the increase in personal at the base after numbers had fallen in previous years and looked forward to meeting with them.

Two Osprey aircraft will be arriving later this month with the remaining eight expected to be in place by the end of 2014.

The Osprey combines the vertical takeoff, hover and vertical landing qualities of a helicopter with the long range fuel efficiency and speed of aircraft.

The Commando aircraft, which will run air refuelling missions for helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft, are scheduled to take up to five years to arrive at the base.