Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond has ended almost two years of uncertainty about the future of RAF Leuchars by announcing that it will become an army base after the RAF move out in 2015.
Since 2011, there had been speculation that the base would face closure when the RAF leave. However, Hammond announced that it will be replaced by a “significant” army presence.
One of Scotland’s most famous army regiments, the Royal Scots Dragoon guards, will move into the base, alongside a battalion of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
Fifty RAF personel will also remain at the base and the runway will continue to be used as a relief landing ground for RAF Lossiemouth, the only Scottish RAF base to remain under the new changes. Leuchars has been used in the past when Lossiemouth has had to close due to bad weather.
Leuchars will also receive £60 million from the £1.8 million that has been promised for investment in accommodation and facilities at bases across Scotland.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson explained the plans for changes across Scotland: “Edinburgh, Kinloss, and Leuchars will all benefit from a major army presence.
“We have already moved over 700 personnel into Kinloss and will be moving two major units into Leuchars as part of a £100 million investment in new infrastructure in Scotland.”
The investment is required as there are plans for a 20% increase in army personnel in Scotland. This is partly due to the closure of Britain’s two barracks in Germany. Some of the 17,000 troops in Germany will be re-located to the new Leuchars base to ensure the security of the armed forces in Scotland.
A senior Defence source told the Scotsman, “The new basing plan brings certainty and security to our armed forces and to Scotland.”
The news of major investment in the armed forces comes as Scotland is facing a referendum on independence in 2014 and there is a lot of uncertainty about what a yes vote would mean for these new plans.
The MoD spokesperson commented that “People should judge the SNP’s credibility on defence against its own proposals for investment in Scotland’s defence. They propose an annual defence and security budget (£2.5bn) that is a 14th of what the UK spends on defence alone (about £33.5bn), for a country with a tax base of one 12th the size.”