Renewed speculation about the long-term future of Leuchars air base has been triggered by the recent announcement of a second Typhoon squadron moving to Leuchars.
The news comes despite last year’s announcement that Leuchars airbase would be closing and would be transferred to the army.
It has been reported that there has been significant investment in the infrastructure of the airbase in Leuchars, worth over £2m, in order to accommodate the Typhoon aircraft. This is in addition to £40m being invested in the runway.
However, thus far there has been no investment to prepare for the army taking over the base. Nor has there been similar investment in RAF Lossiemouth to prepare for the arrival of Leuchars’ Typhoon squadrons, although they are due to move there from next year.
There has been considerable concern, given recent cuts to the army budget that Leuchars would be left as an empty army base after the RAF departs.
A senior army source has been quoted as saying: “no one seems to have a clue what’s going on” with regards to the future of Leuchars.
Additionally, a source in the RAF has said that the logistics and costs of the move have not been properly considered by ministers and that behind closed doors there is “chaos”.
In his speech to the House of Commons announcing the decision to close Leuchars as an air base, the Defence Secretary Liam Fox stated that the base would be converted into army barracks to house troops returning from Germany. This was last summer.
The decision to move 1(F) squadron to Leuchars has added to the uncertainty surrounding the base’s future and fuelled some hopes that the RAF may not leave.
The Glenrothes and Central Fife MP Lindsay Roy has called on the UK Government to make clear its plans and put an end to the speculation and rumours. He said: “the local community deserves to be told as soon as possible about what the future holds.
“A further review is taking place behind closed doors…the MoD must honour its pledge to retain Leuchars as an armed forces base,” he added.
Sir Menzies Campbell, MP for North East Fife and Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, shares the belief that there is a “wholesale review” taking place.
He has argued that it would be more economical for the airbase in Leuchars to remain open as it is, given the considerable investment already made in the Leuchars base.
He views the addition of a second squadron as proof of “the suitability of the base to provide air defence for the northern half of Great Britain.”
The Station Commander of RAF Leuchars, Air Commodore Gavin Parker, has said that having two Typhoon squadrons will allow the base to “maximise our training opportunities whilst meeting our operational commitments” as they move the Typhoon aircraft to RAF Lossiemouth over the next few years.
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