Report recommends US Air Force pulls out of Lakenheath

RAF Lakenheath
RAF Lakenheath
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The future of the United States Air Force (USAF) at RAF Lakenheath is uncertain after a US government-commissioned report has recommended its closure.

The closure of RAF Lakenheath has been recommended in two of three options presented within in a report carried out by Rand Corp and commissioned by the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

The report also presents the possibility of relocating some forces based at RAF Mildenhall back to the US but states the base should remain open and host a modestly sized wing.

The USAF has had a presence at RAF Lakenheath since 1948 and employs approximately 4,600 personnel.

James Waters, leader of Forest Heath District Council, said: “We have heard this many times before.

“You can never guarantee anything but I do not think we need to be worrying too much at this stage.

“If it does happen I do not think it can happen overnight. We need to have contingency plans and we need to carry on working closely with the base.”

Colin Noble, Suffolk county councillor for Row Heath, also advised against panic.

He said: “It’s a very integral part of the community.

“Obviously if it did happen that’s a very significant thing for the area. It would be about understanding time limits and getting advance notice.”

US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa has said the US Department of Defense is in the process of conducting a European Infrastructure Consolidation Review.

It is expected the results will be released later this year after congressional approval.

The Rand report’s proposals are part of ongoing cost cutting being undertaken by the department.

It states that savings of about $2 billion a year across Europe require sweeping and multiple base closures.

It is calculated that closing RAF Lakenheath would achieve savings of 
$211 million per year.

This is not the first time this year the USAF’s British bases have been threatened by cuts.

Earlier, it was announced that both RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall could see a dramatic reduction in personnel as the US Air Force worked to cut airmen by 25,000.