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Air bases that contribute millions of pounds to the economy face cuts

RAF Lakenheath

RAF Lakenheath

The economies around RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall could be hit as the United States Air Force works to cut 25,000 airmen.

Both bases could see dramatic staff reductions as the air force works to achieve reduce its size.

There are approximately 7,900 airmen employed across RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall, which have been estimated to bring £580m to the surrounding economy.

Suffolk County Councillor for Row Heath, Colin Noble, said: “Whenever we hear of United States Air Force (USAF) reorganisation and the possibility of cuts it’s obviously a great concern to the local community, a great number of people are employed on base and work in jobs associated with the base so it’s always of concern.

“What we hope is that any reductions won’t be as bad as some of the reports we are hearing - but we wait to see.”

The United States Air Force plans to cut 25,000 airmen by the end of the year. Voluntary redundancies are being sought. Boards will look at forced redundancies between May and July, this year.

The 48th Fighter Wing, based in Lakenheath, employs 4,400 staff, 1.600 of which are eligible to be cut.

A spokesperson for the wing said: “We don’t know how many airmen will ultimately leave Lakenheath in the next year as this is an ongoing process based on overall Air Force numbers, not local quotas.”

The 100th Air Refueling Wing, based at Mildenhall, said it is not yet known how the wing would be affected.

A spokesman said the base will provide assistance to any service members affected by staffing cuts so ease their transition into the civilian workforce.

John Bloodworth, chairman of Mildenhall Parish Council, said Americans based at RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall benefit the economies of the areas as well as contributing to the community.

He raised concerns that British employees of the two bases may also find their positions at risk.

 

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